Jan 1, 2019
“Just let me die.”
That’s what Linda said after receiving her leukemia diagnosis.
Not all patients believe they can conquer cancer.
Linda and her daughter, Marissa, relive the first day in the hospital and the year of medical house arrest that was part of Linda’s life-saving treatment.
Just let me die. That's what Linda said after receiving her leukemia diagnosis. Not all patients believe they can conquer cancer. Linda and her daughter Marissa relived the first day in the hospital and the year of medical house arrest that was part of Linda's life saving treatment.
Let's start back at the beginning. How did you learn that you had leukemia?
Well, I had just retired from teaching. And I started feeling really very weak. I also wasn't eating anything, couldn't eat. I went to see my doctor the next day. She did bloodwork. Called later and said, you need to get to the hospital right away. So--
Off to the hospital.
--off to the hospital. And they did more tests. And I remember the doctor coming in and saying I had acute myeloid leukemia.
And I just pulled the sheet over my head. And I didn't want to hear anything else. I didn't want to hear any of it.
I don't know if I was in shock. I wasn't in disbelief. Because I all along thought I knew this was going to happen to me.
What got you past that initial moment of not wanting to hear anything? I just kind of went with it.
Well, there's no time to really think.
Right. I think I was thinking whatever happens happens. And I know several times I said I just want to die. I remember looking at you and mouthing, I just want to die. And you just shaking your head, saying no.
No. That was not an option. We knew you. And we know how you deal with medical problems or issues. And for us, it was we're going to fight this and we're going to do everything that we can.
So you can sit there and you can feel that way. But we're going to be the people who are pushing this forward and meeting with the doctors and asking the questions and just sort of making sure we're doing as much as we can. But it was important for you to have that moment, though. Because you know, we're not the ones who are being told that we have cancer, you are. And so I think we wanted to give you that space to sort of go through that acceptance.
Yeah, I guess at some point, obviously, I did accept it. But I got to the point with just tell me what I have to do and I'll do it.
And you fought the whole way. But you did what you needed to do. And really, you were the one who got yourself through the next round of chemo, the next round of radiation. And oh, then, there's this thing that's a bone marrow transplant.
Right. And you were my donor. So--
You won. Did you have any fears about that whole thing?
I didn't really. I guess there was a little apprehension about just sort of being put under. But I think my reaction was just sort of great, when do we do this, how soon do we do this, how fast do we do this. There was never a question that this was the right thing to do.
I mean, it just felt like I took a nap for a morning. I go under they take a liter of bone marrow. I just generate it. So there's no real impact to me. I was bruised and sore. And then they just process it, bring it to you.
I remember the doctor coming in with your bone marrow. And the chaplain was there and said a prayer over it.
And then it just goes in your body. It knows where to go. And then it just starts doing what it needs to do.
That was an emotional moment thinking that you were saving my life. So anyway, the day came when I could leave. And when I got home, it was still a year you can't go to a restaurant--
Medical house arrest.
Right. You can't go to the movies you can't go to any public places at all.
Can't really see people.
And so I said, oh, but I can garden. No. You can't even do that. So I was, OK, now what am I going to do? I got into my photography. I got into art. I did the sketchbook. I finally hung all those family portraits.
I was going to say, years of my life I've heard about portraits up the stairwell. And now you finally did it.
So it was weekly visits to the hospital. And then every two weeks, and now it's one month. I've done very well so far.
So you had said that you always felt that something would happen. You would get leukemia. You would get cancer. Do you still carry that, where you feel like something's going to happen? Or do you feel like you've been able to kind of get past that because you experienced it and you know what it is and you know you can beat it?
I don't feel as anxious as I did. Because I know that somehow you get through these things-- somehow. I didn't know that I was as strong as I was. So I don't think about the future. I can't go beyond, let's say, a month.
It's this is what I'm going to do today. I'm going to make sure I enjoy this day and take advantage of this day. I can't think about a year or two from now. I can't. People say living in the now. But it's true. It's not a bad way to live--
--if you can do it.
Linda is now in remission. And her family donates to Conquer Cancer to ensure other patients face treatment with the same hope Linda was given. A gift to Conquer Cancer provides patients treatment options and the encouragement needed to embrace their conqueror within. Inspire a conqueror. Make a gift today by visiting Conquer.org/donate.