How the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Saved My Life

Posted by Deltek on September 23, 2019

Blood Cancer Awareness Month Survivor Story

Photo Caption: Michelle and her son James at the 2017 Light the Night Walk in Reston, VA.

Summary: To celebrate Blood Cancer Awareness month, Michelle Cipollone, a Deltek employee and cancer survivor, shares her personal story of being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and how the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society helped her get the support and resources she needed to save her life.

My Survivor Story

I was diagnosed with cancer on May 25, 2017. My diagnosis was Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, low-grade follicular and high-grade large B cell lymphoma. Without aggressive treatment, I was facing a fast-growing cancer. Before this day, I was a lucky one. No one in my immediate family had ever been diagnosed with cancer. My only experience with cancer had been signing up for a meal train opportunity for anyone I knew suffering from this awful disease - I make a mean baked ziti and my homemade chocolate chip cookies aren’t bad!

I was a healthy, very active woman with three boys and cancer was the last thing on my mind. Looking back I had the symptoms, I just didn’t know it. Extreme tiredness (I thought this was part of getting older), night sweats (again, I thought women got these as they aged), were things I was experiencing. I was busy with work and family. If it wasn’t for my sister looking at the swollen lymph node and showing concern, I probably would not have gone to the doctor.  

For the next sixteen weeks, I went through treatment including aggressive chemotherapy (R-CHOP). I lost my hair. I was tired. I was nauseous. It was exhausting both physically and emotionally. It was by far, the hardest thing I had ever experienced in my life. But, I was lucky again. My body responded to the treatment and by October 3, 2017, I was in remission.  

One of the first things you are told when you are diagnosed with cancer is not to go home and google the disease, but I am human and of course, that is what I did. Thankfully when I googled lymphoma, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) was the first thing that came up.  From that first horrible day until now, LLS has supported me through this journey. That first-day LLS’s website gave me important information about my disease, my treatment and it showed me that there were a lot of survivors that had gone through what I was about to experience. This organization was destined to be front and center while I fought. 

#DeltekCares About Blood Cancer

The week after I was diagnosed, I received a company-wide email from Deltek’s CEO, Mike Corkery kicking off Deltek’s Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fundraising campaign for the year. The timing was perfect. That next week I went to Deltek’s headquarters to share my news with my boss and with Mike. Mike introduced me to Deltek’s LLS representative at the time, and she quickly connected me with local resources, and a community of people going through the same thing I was experiencing. Without LLS’s research, physical and emotional support, I am not sure I would be in the place I am today. Cancer for sure changed everything in my life but with the help of LLS, I get to say “I’m in remission” and have returned to my active “normal” daily life.  

Participating in Light the Night 

One of the most amazing experiences I had was going to the LLS Light the Night event in Reston, VA four days after I was told I was in remission.  I carried a survivor balloon, I walked with my family and my Deltek family.  My story was told to the audience that night and I will never forget the care and feeling of support I experienced. I am in tears just writing about it.  

If you are compelled to donate to this cause or to walk with us this year, please join #TeamDeltek to honor and support those that have been lost, those who are fighting and those who will have to fight this disease in the future.

 

About the Author

Director of Product Marketing, Michelle oversees the team responsible for marketing Deltek’s commercial professional services solutions. These solutions help Architecture, Engineering and Construction firms, Management and IT consulting firms, and Marketing Agencies manage their projects and their people. Michelle has spent the last twenty years working with organizations helping them understand technology trends, best practices and tools to streamline their business and processes. Connect with Michelle on LinkedIn.