“I’ve been through so much - the [Second World] War, losing my parents, starvation, and, now cancer, but you have to keep going,” says Brigitta. At 85-years-old, she had already endured melanoma when, earlier this year, she received a lymphoma diagnosis. A diverse disease group that impacts the
This most recent cancer journey began when Brigitta discovered a lump in her groin and sought advice from her doctor, who had her undergo a biopsy. “I thought it was cancer – I wasn’t surprised when I found out the results,” she recalls of the diagnosis.
No stranger to adversity, Brigitta was born in Germany in the 1930s, and faced immense hardship throughout the War and beyond before emigrating to Canada with her husband and young daughter in 1966. Once here, she built a vibrant, fulfilling life. Ultimately, her experience and the fortitude it required has shaped her view of cancer and her approach to treatment.
“I am not afraid,” she notes. Instead, she is determined. Immediately upon diagnosis, she turned to her strong support system, including her two daughters. Together, they began to research the disease, speaking to various specialists and exploring treatment options. Given her specific type of lymphoma, non-hodgkin lymphoma, or NHL, that meant embarking on a regimen of chemotherapy this past April. She has another round scheduled for the autumn.
Throughout, she has experienced fatigue, some pain, and a bit of hair loss, although her response to the latter encapsulates her overall positive outlook: “I still have very thick, curly hair; so, that’s good,” she points out with a smile.
Symptoms notwithstanding, she continues to stay active. When an injury forced her to give up running in her sixties, she resolved to keep walking, which she has done every day, even as she underwent chemotherapy. Moreover, as a voracious reader, she stresses the value of escaping and travelling through the written word.
While Brigitta feels grateful for the assistance she continues to receive from friends, family, and healthcare workers, she recognizes that not everyone living with lymphoma has the same network and encourages them to speak with support groups and maintain a positive attitude.
In Canada, groups such as
Unlike Brigitta’s sub-type of NHL, which lends itself well to a variety of therapies, DLBCL can be
DLBCL can occur at any age, however most diagnoses occur in people in their
New advancements in research and treatment could give DLBCL patients more options and renewed hope. Outside of these new developments, DLBCL and other NHL patients can also find strength from support groups and others who have faced similar adversity – people like Brigitta.
“We’re not alone [with lymphoma]; talk to people in your community,” Brigitta advises. She also encourages patients to acknowledge the positive things in their lives. “I’m 85, I can still drive, I walk every day, I have incredible friends, an incredible family, a good life; I’m staying positive and I’ll fight this cancer.”
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