Diagnosis & Treatment

Mantel Cell Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Medical Center
St. Jude - Fullerton, CA and City of Hope - Duarte, CA
Dr. David Snyder - CIty of Hope, Duarte CA
Clinical Trials
Yes. My entire treatment plan was a clinical trial: full body radiation, 24/7 chemotherapy, and a full stem cell transplant. I also took part in a cold sore clinical trial to help with chemo side effects. I still participate in a mental-emotional study that tracks cancer's impact on the family. I figured what I was going through may as well help others!
Medical Treatment
Stem cell
Details of Treatment
The entire journey took 9 years. It began with a full week of 24/7 in-hospital chemotherapy every 3 weeks at St. Jude. I then transferred to City of Hope for the duration of my treatment which included 3 months of living at hospital and never leaving the facility. This included weeks of 24/7 chemotherapy and full body radiation twice a day for 5 days. I also had a full stem cell transplant, 12 bone marrow biopsies, and removal of a lymph node for testing. My platelet counts were constantly monitored and were low. It took 9 years to complete all of my blood transfusions to get back to normal levels.
Medication During Treatment
Alternative Therapies During Treatment
No items found.
This is not a journey I would wish on anyone - but it is journey I am glad I took.
WHAt helped me during treatment
I swished with a huge bottle of salt water to stave off mouth sores about twelve times per day - I only had 1 cold sore! I was expected to need morphine to deal with sores - and I did not need it.
Favorite Quote
Advice for Others
Never give up. You can’t. You have to have hope that you will come out the other side. It’s worth fighting for. Focus on who you are, and who you want to be. Cancer is moving closer to a cure – it’s not an automatic death sentence. The harder you fight against that – the more likely you’re going to make it out. For me it was a great journey. I have kids and grandkids that are the joys of my life – the journey was worth it!

My Story

I was 49 when I was diagnosed with Mantel Cell Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma stage 4. I was healthy, in great shape, and a vegetarian. There are no bumps or lumps with my cancer. What led me to a doctor in the first place was chronic hives. That was the beginning of my journey to become a cancer survivor!

The medical team was shocked to see me. I was the first female they had treated with this cancer as it usually hit men working in toxic environments. For the first 3 months I was at St. Jude's Hospital in Fullerton, CA. I was on one of the most toxic chemotherapies at the time, with 3 chemo agents in my cocktail. My doctor let me know that two men had to be taken of the regiment because they couldn't handle it. My attitude was: this is not going to easy but I am going to fight it with all the inner strength I have! I simply told cancer: "too bad I’m moving on. I'M NOT DYING. I will not let this defeat me." I was at the hospital once a week every 3 weeks on chemo 24/7 and finished that treatment!

The next part of my journey took me to the City of Hope in Duarte, CA. I lived there for 3 months, the first week in a small apartment. While at City of Hope I received chemo and full-body radiation twice a day for 5 days. I then moved into the bone marrow transplant unit. That is where I got my stem cell transplant and waited until my counts recovered so I could get to my family. Once home I was making the trip to the City of Hope every 2 days so my counts could be checked. Each time I made that drive I always told myself: "this is the I won't need a platelet or blood transfusion." It took 9 years before my counts were real people normal not "Pam's normal!" Along the way I had 12 bone marrow biopsies and made a lot of special friends. I was so excited when my distance between visits to The City of Hope became longer!

I was given 3 years and I am now celebrating 20 years cancer free, 50 years married, and turning 70!

I have two wonderful children, Jenni and Chris, who have married two awesome individuals, Brain and Andrea. I am enjoying two fabulous grandsons, Wyatt and Ian, whom I babysat for a long time.  This is not a journey I would wish on anyone but it is journey I am glad I took! It was worth it!

I now understand there are so few things you can control. I control what I can – taking care of myself. I'm in greatest shape of my life.

As a person who went through this journey another thing that has stayed with me the simple kindness that of friends and acquaintances how it changed me! I now reach to help out when can. Whether it is a card in mail, flowers real or silk (like I had to have in the hospital), or a meal on the doorstep. Those are things made my journey easier - knowing that people cared about me.

A few things I would like to share that made a difference in my journey:

1) I was in good shape when I was diagnosed and a vegetarian. So I say stay in shape or get in shape so you can fight this battle.

2) Get a medical team you trust, listen to your doctors, and work with them to help with your journey.

3) Get an advocate. I was incredibly lucky that I had the best advocate in my husband. He is a big part of why I am still here!

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