Juliana's Survivor Story

4-time cancer survivor, Juliana Fuller, and her young family.

Juliana Fuller was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma at age 19, follicular lymphoma at age 26, and melanoma in situ at 27 -- and there was a basal cell carcinoma in there somewhere, too -- so she knows what it’s like to face challenges.

Now a married woman, with a smiling, cooing baby named Noelle at her side, Juliana has a message for any of you out there who may, at this moment, really need it.

A Message of Hope

“The main thing for me is that I want people to be hopeful.

I want them to know that I could do things I was dreaming of -- that cancer doesn’t have to be the end of the story. I can have my life too. I am so grateful for the littlest things, like feeling good when I wake up and being able to have Noelle,” says Juliana.

“At the time of the diagnosis, I was married. Two years out, my scans were all clear and we didn’t need to do any more treatment. We knew we wanted a family, but we tried for a year and I was thinking it wouldn’t happen,” she says.

Her strength, brilliance, and gratitude are palpable even to someone listening to her story over the phone. However, it wasn’t always this way, and Juliana also recalls the fear and confusion of her lymphoma diagnosis.

“This is the main reason I wanted to talk about my experience. For me, it was very confusing,” she says.

Dealing with the Diagnosis

The lymph nodes had been there for a few months. They weren't painful, but they were there.

She had been in school at the time, studying to be a nurse practitioner, and instructors had just covered the importance of the supraclavicular lymph nodes. It would take another eight months, however, for the diagnosis to be complete in all its details.

Confusion and anxiety are normal when facing a diagnosis like lymphoma, and Juliana says she was no exception, also explaining that sometimes a feeling of isolation comes with the territory, too.

"They told me I had stage IV and low grade, slow growing follicular lymphoma, they told me that -- and that it was incurable, but that a lot of people live years with it. I didn’t know how to plan for the future -- like it was lurking,” she says.

“It had been a year and I had only met one person who had lymphoma,” she continued. “I would get depressed because I didn’t know about all of the subtypes and I would find things on the Internet…”

Working to Share Information

The Alliance for Resource Collaboration in Hematology, or ARCH, was developed by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Lymphoma Research Foundation, CancerCare, the Association of Community Cancer Centers and Genentech to share information and resources to ensure the experience of lymphoma is less isolating and more empowering for patients, caregivers, and loved ones.

Juliana serves as an Ambassador for the Lymphoma Research Foundation and is committed to raising awareness for the disease and the ARCH partnership, and to providing hope to all those affected by lymphoma.

“I learned a lot from the Lymphoma Research Foundation conferences I attended. They shared information about new treatments which helped me have educated conversations with my oncologist."

The goal of ARCH is to directly reach lymphoma patients diagnosed and treated in community cancer programs -- patients who may not have access to the latest information and support -- and connect them to resources from the trusted partner organizations. At www.LymphomaResources.com, people can learn about the different types of lymphoma, explore treatment options, find information about specialists, and connect to patient communities, peer support programs and counseling services.

In addition to her support for the ARCH partnership and her connection to the cancer community, Juliana continues in her professional life, practicing family medicine. She notices she has a special connection with patients now. “It has changed my perspective a lot. Little things seem even more beautiful,” she says.

About Blood Cancer Awareness Month

Observed each year in September, Blood Cancer Awareness Month is a time to remember and honor people whose lives are touched by blood cancers and to support efforts to find cures for these diseases.

As a lymphoma Ambassador and a nurse practitioner, Juliana is connected with the cancer community in many ways. Just last week she participated in a walk-a-thon for the cause.

Similar events in your area may already be planned, with two organizations leading the charge in September:

Sources

Juliana Fuller, Personal Communication. August 2015.

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