Jane Houldsworth’s SurvivorStory

Posted on: Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Jane, Vice President of Research and Development at CGI, talks about her own battle with Lymphoma, and how surviving Lymphoma has impacted her work.

I’m Jane Houldsworth, El Nagar (and that’s important in this setting). I was diagnosed, my official date, was March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, 2010. So I was diagnosed, I was 51, I started treatment on April 22 and the reason I had to have treatment straight away was because what I had is known as follicular lymphoma [FL]. I knew that people could live for more than twenty years with it; it’s never curable. I also had what’s known as de novo transformation to diffuse large B-cell lymphoma [DLBCL], which is an aggressive component. So the strange thing here was that these were diseases that I had done work on at the bench level. So I knew a fair bit about their genetics, and some biology, so now I was going to learn about the clinical side of them all.

So the first treatment I was a little nervous about because it’s chemotherapy – we see the movies. It wasn’t anything like the movies [laughs]. I walked in and I walked out! And the very next day I took my daughter for my driver’s test.

I found that as I went along I had neuropathy in my fingers, I couldn’t do certain things, but I could still read and still type. There were some days when I used to – I slept on the living room floor for several months. There were times when I could barely walk from the living room floor to the bathroom. So my clothes used to be out in the living room in a laundry basket. But at least I was there and I could hear all of the noise going on around me.

I met some remarkable people in treatment rooms and in hospitals, because I had to be hospitalized for the last three treatments because they went over 48 hours. So I had some remarkable experiences with people. I played chemo bingo with other people who were having chemotherapy. I met Harriett, who didn’t do anything her doctor told her to do. I even acted in there one time as a translator to Arabic to a young man who had AML, and he didn’t speak English, and he needed to pee before he could leave, so I went in without any hair or anything and told him he needed to pee in the cup in Arabic so he could leave. So I met all sorts of remarkable people during this time.

I would like my doctor to have available to him as many prognostic tests to help him to decide what I was going to be treated with, how I was going to respond, and what’s my long term outlook, which is prognosis. I wanted those tests available to him. However, I realized for my disease that there weren’t that many.

The tests that we offer here, I think, definitely would fit into that battery of tests that he may need to help make decisions. And I think that’s why the Complete program is so important. Because he may not be able to put all those pieces together – all those different individual test results – and come out with an overall “what’s my prognosis” or “what should he do” unless they’re put together at one place. And this is where I see the value of our complete program – each one of these tests is actually giving different pieces of information about the disease, and it’s important that they [the doctors] have all of those available to them. So maybe that’s how it’s impacted what I do here – making sure those Complete programs are complete.

Learn more about CGI’s Complete testing for lymphoma and leukemia at http://cancergenetics.com/laboratory-services/cll-complete/

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