I’m Not Dead Yet! (AKA, my recent diagnosis)
by on December 12, 2013 in Blog

For those of you who don’t yet know, I’m sharing news that I’ve been dealing with for the past week, because I could use your moral support.  Please don’t freak out — I already did that and am doing a pretty good job of being strong and positive going forward (hence, the Monty Python reference in the title of this post).  😉

I found out a week ago that I have a rare, but treatable form of Lymphoma called Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia (quite a mouthful, right?!).  WM is a slow-moving cancer in my bone marrow & blood, and my “numbers” are quite high, which has been apparently causing extreme anemia & fatigue for a while (now I know why I was driven to drinking more and more coffee over the past two years!).  We found the disease through a routine blood test for life insurance (thank goodness for my somewhat pushy insurance agent!) – I was fully expecting to be found super-healthy, and was instead turned down flat and told that I need to go to the doctor and find out what’s wrong with me.  My oncologist wants to jump on this right away, so I begin “mild” chemotherapy today – “mild” meaning that I get to keep my hair (which I’m very grateful for) and I shouldn’t be puking my guts out (again – very grateful!).

Despite what sounds like bad news, I actually feel INCREDIBLY lucky.

Lucky that I found out before I had more symptoms, lucky for my BEYOND amazing family and friends who have been SO very supportive of me throughout this week, lucky that my mom, herself a Lymphoma survivor (10 years and going strong!), is here to help out and see me through my first week of treatment, and lucky that my doctors and medical team are wonderfully kind, caring, and top-notch.

My doctor expects me to respond well to treatment and start feeling better soon.  Although I’ve been disappointed to cancel some performances, co-writing and recording sessions this month, I’m VERY much looking forward to getting back to playing music as soon as I can – most likely focusing on co-writing & recording for the next few months and performing more once my energy levels are back to normal.

Music, laughter, kitties, and hang time with the people I love is the best medicine I can give myself (in addition to my chemo!), and I plan on spending plenty of time treating myself to my favorite things in life over the next four months of treatment.

Although this cancer is considered incurable, the IWMF works to support those with WM, find more effective treatments, and search for a cure.  If you feel inspired to contribute to the IWMF to help them with their research, I’d, of course, be grateful.

Most importantly, THANK YOU for being a part of my life and for being here for me in a challenging time.  I’m confident I’ll get through this first treatment phase with flying colors, and I’ll deal with whatever is thrown at me as the years go by.  If all goes well and WM research continues to progress, I plan on being able to share new music with you for many years to come!

xoxoxo

~Ali

@copy 2016 Ali Handal