C.C.: A Story of Courage

• August 2001, my husband and I decided to seek the opinion of the other oncologist in Little Rock that we had been sent to for the bone marrow biopsy. He gladly accepted my case and has been my primary oncologist since that time. I was scheduled to have a treatment of the CHOP on the next Monday and every 3 weeks after that. On Saturday I received a phone call from an aunt in Oklahoma that one of my cousins, only 20 years old, had an accident and was killed. I drove over to my mom's house and spent the night. We went to Little Rock the next morning for my treatment, I then drove to Oklahoma City immediately following my treatment to attend the funeral which was scheduled for the next day.

• January 2002, a CT Scan showed no swollen nodes and no evidence of disease. A BMB was performed. Two days later I received a phone call with the results. My bone marrow was clean, not one cancer cell in it. I was in a complete remission. I drove to my husband's place of employment. We went into the back room and I told him the good news. We hugged and kissed and cried together! Everyone asked what was wrong and we announced the good news and everyone else cried with us! I was told I could stop all my medications I had been taking including birth control pills. They said it was unlikely that I would conceive a child ever again due to the type of chemo I had received. It should have made me sterile.

• June 2002, I made the trip to Little Rock by myself for a routine CT Scan to make sure my remission was still holding. It was. But on the way home I began getting sick to my stomach, something I had never done with the scans before. I was sick for 10 days and lost 25 pounds.

TopangaJuly 2002, my breasts were sore and I failed to start my period. That really was nothing unusual, as I had irregular periods caused by the chemo. But I thought let's take a home pregnancy test just to see what it says. It was positive, but only faint. I asked my husband to look at it and he said it was positive. I made an appointment with my family doctor who said he would run a blood test just to put my mind at ease, but it was highly unlikely that I was actually pregnant. He thought maybe my hormones were just out of whack from the chemo. He came back into the room and told me I was pregnant. I became worried because he told me my conception date was May 21st. I had a CT Scan in June. What would happen to the baby because of that? No one seemed to know. I had a fairly uneventful pregnancy. My blood counts rose back to normal ranges while I was pregnant and my appointments with my oncologist seemed routine with no sign of the cancer returning.

• February 2003, Topanga Elaine Howell made her way into this world via C-Section.

• March 2003, I ended up with an infection in my c-section incision because a small part of it had opened back up. I was put on antibiotics and the incision was cleaned. I was scheduled for a CT Scan, which showed lymph node growth in my groin. I was scheduled for a biopsy to see if the cancer had transformed or if it was the same kind I had before. It was the same kind. I was scheduled for treatment of Rituxan once a week for 8 weeks. So we made the trip to Little Rock once a week for about 12 weeks total with tests and regular appointments and treatments.

• June 2003, there was no response to the Rituxan. The next step was to be a new kind of treatment called Zevalin.a radioactive isotope, a type of internal radiation. I would be only the 6th person in the state of Arkansas to receive it. The approval process was long. Another bone marrow biopsy had to be performed and blood tests. Of course approval had to be sought from Medicare since they were my only insurance at the time. It took a while but I was finally scheduled for September.


Very inspiring story. I hope this will serve as an eye opener to all of us. You should never lose hope and always be strong not just for your family but also for yourself.