Earlier this summer, I learned about the Cancer Moonshot 2020, a new cancer research project that aims to accelerate different types of cancer treatment. I had learned a lot about the initiative in June, Cancer Immunotherapy month. I had just started my Cinematic Arts classes in the summer program at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and wasn’t able to write the entry at that time. It’s now September, which is also Blood Cancer Awareness Month (Leukemia, Lymphoma & Myeloma) and I want to share some of the Cancer Moonshot 2020 findings on my blog.
As a 15-year cancer survivor, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 39 on November 8, 2000 after suffering multiple symptoms, including chest pains, weight loss, fatigue and night sweats, for almost one year. Three days after I was hospitalized and received my cancer diagnosis, I began chemotherapy and three months later started radiation treatment.
You can read about my cancer treatment experience in this blog entry that appeared on LymphomaInfo.net in July 2013 – http://www.lymphomainfo.net/share/surviving-lymphoma/surviving-lymphoma-and-life-s-challenges-leslie-s-story
|Easter Day 2001
Sara (4) & Lauren (8)
and I’m wearing my
‘Laura Bush” wig
Throughout my life, I can remember cancer affecting friends and family members. Friends from high school and college, co-workers and relatives. It seems that everyone has been affected in one way or another by cancer. And then came my cancer diagnosis in November 2000, eight days after I turned 39 years old. I then spent the next seven months going through cancer treatment and approximately two years recovering and gaining my strength back. I tried to maintain positive, reading as much as I could about Lymphoma, and continued to create special moments with my two daughters and husband. On May 17, 2001, I was declared ‘in remission’ by my Oncologist, Dr. Lawrence Mendelsohn. My husband Stewart took me to Fort Walton, Florida for a week to celebrate. After we returned from the beach, I was able to spend the summer with our two daughters, going to parks and picnics, and sometimes just staying in the house, watching videos and playing with Beanie Babies! I also discovered that I had some additional medical issues, including digestive problems and osteoporosis. Cancer doesn’t just affect the patient, it affects the whole family. I was so lucky to have the love and support of my family and friends during the time before, during and after my diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
|My husband, Stewart, with our two daughters, Sara & Lauren,
on Easter Day 2001.
The Cancer Moonshot initiative will try and break the mold of traditional cancer treatment. The chemotherapy treatments will be replaced by vaccine based immunotherapy tailored to each individual. Even rare cancers like mesothelioma and lymphoma see hope with the immunotherapy treatments. Many new treatments for these cancers have seen promise with immune targeting. The following video explains about the Cancer Moonshot.
You can read more about the establishment of Cancer Moonshot, which was led by Vice President Joe Biden, who lost his son Beau Biden to brain cancer in 2015, by clicking on this link to an online article from the National Cancer Institute.
On November 8, 2016 (Election Day!) it will be 16 years since I was diagnosed with Lymphoma. I’m proud to be a cancer survivor and have volunteered for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the American Cancer Society and Race For The Cure. I’ve written a newsletter for the families of children fighting cancer and several blog entries for different cancer support groups.
In the years since I went into remission from cancer, my husband and I watched our two daughters grow up from little girls into kind, smart and beautiful young women. Tragically, Stewart passed away suddenly at age 52 from an undiagnosed pulmonary embolism on May 10, 2012, when I was 50 and our daughters were only 19 and 15 years old. In May 2015, my oldest daughter graduated from college and now lives and works out of state and my youngest daughter graduated from high school and is currently a sophomore in college.
|Leslie, Sara and Lauren Doan
|Cancer Moonshot 2020 Graphic