When I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma back in Feb 2010 I was told that this was a “good cancer.” I was quoted 90% cure rates with first line treatment and told that if that fails there is still more chance after that. But, as I have mentioned in the past, how does that feel for the 10% who aren’t cured? The 10% who are told the same things on day 1 but that don’t come out the other end? Maybe it is time to understand that no cancer is a “good cancer.”
If you have found my site because you are concerned that you have Lymphoma or because you have been diagnosed with Lymphoma then please take heart in those statistics as they are true. But never take anything about your treatment for granted because for some people the gulf between 90% and 100% is huge.
At the same time as I was diagnosed, the very same month, Sharon Carrick was given, probably, the very same story. She too found out that she had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Except now, 17 months later, I attended Sharon’s funeral. Sharon had not managed to get into a remission from Front line nor salvage chemo. She began to respond to mini-BEAM and so her medical team decided to go on to auto SCT. During this procedure she picked up an infection, a cold and was not strong enough to fight it off. Sharon was on the wrong side of the statistics with her Lymphoma and was even unluckier with her treatment. The auto SCT has a meagre 3% mortality rate. Sharon died from complications of her treatment on Thursday 7th July, 2011. She was 28 years old. She had a beloved partner and son and a wonderful, loving family.
I never met Sharon, but I was in contact with her foster mum, Julienne. Julienne acted as Sharon’s health advocate and went to her appointments with her. As her condition got more serious I don’t think that Julienne left Sharon’s side and she found me through a mutual friend when the topic of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma came up. Julienne researched options, joined forums and read blogs to gain a wealth of knowledge about this cancer and as a result Sharon got arguably the best treatment options available to her. Julienne should be proud that she gave Sharon some solid support and some well founded hope on the treatment front. When Sharon died the team had a good plan, the infection was just badly timed.
Today I was honoured enough to be invited to Sharon’s funeral. It was a beautiful ceremony and was billed as a celebration of Sharon’s life, rather than a remembrance. We sang upbeat hymns and listened to a few of many stories of Sharon’s life, work and how she used to be. I mentioned before that I never met Sharon, but from listening to the wonderful things that people had to say about her it is obvious that she was a very special person. She gave so much to so many people. She loved children and devoted her life to her Son, Coel. But she also worked as a teaching assistant and made so many other children happy. She was even a birthing partner, twice for her sister. Children were her world. It was fitting, then, that the choir from the school where she taught were there to sing a song for her. “You’ve got a friend in me” because they all did have. We also heard how strong and how strong willed she was. We also heard that since she couldn’t work after her diagnosis (because of the infection risk in a school) she decided to learn to drive instead, even having lessons the day after chemo sessions!
Finally, we learned how she loved colour and light and in particular she liked Rainbows. In one of the most moving parts of the ceremony one of her friends from the school read out the following poem that will offer comfort to Julienne, Sharon’s partner, Paul and her son Coel for years to come:
Time for me to go now, I won’t say goodbye; Look for me in rainbows, way up in the sky. In the morning sunrise when all the world is new, Just look for me and love me, as you know I loved you.
Time for me to leave you, I won’t say goodbye; Look for me in rainbows, high up in the sky. In the evening sunset, when all the world is through, Just look for me and love me, and I’ll be close to you.
It won’t be forever, the day will come and then My loving arms will hold you, when we meet again.
Time for us to part now, we won’t say goodbye; Look for me in rainbows, shining in the sky. Every waking moment, and all your whole life through Just look for me and love me, as you know I loved you.
Julienne, we are all thinking of you and Sharon today