Harjeet's story: celebrating my immune system turning one
Updated: Jul 14
At only 32, Harjeet's life was turned upside down when diagnosed with Stage IV T-cell lymphoma and a rare autoimmune disease. Today, she celebrates the first birthday of her steam cells by sharing the story of her second chance at life.
My cancer diagnosis
In August 2019, I was diagnosed with Big “C” Stage IV T-cell lymphoma and an autoimmune disease Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). It's an aggressive and rare diagnosis; only 150 cases reported. The diagnosis came after staying in hospital for about 3 months with high fevers and rigors episodes daily.
Cancer doesn’t discriminate, it doesn't give a shit who you are, what age you are, what religion you are, what car you drive, your sexuality or your social status!
Being diagnosed with cancer is news no one wants to hear in their lifetime. It was completely unexpected and the most difficult challenge I had to face. I am grateful for my incredible family and close friends who went above and beyond to support me and still do. They made me feel strong enough to fight this battle like a warrior. Despite all that happened, I accept this as a moving point in my life which made me much stronger for life ahead. Just enjoy the ride you’ve been given and don’t let shit stress you out!
14 April 2020 was my rebirth. It's taken so much courage to get here and I am so grateful. The first 100 days of post stem cell transplant were critical because transplant could be rejected and I could get critical illness.
My stem cell transplant treatment was during the pandemic Covid 19, I had to be isolated for 32 days in the hospital with strictly no visitors policy. I was on conditioning chemo and radiation therapy for 7 days and had no idea what lay ahead.
I had no clue what complications there might be. If the transplant would be successful or if I will be able to get my life back.
The transplant was unworldly tough for me. I was exhausted by the end of it. I shed so many tears of pain. Life never gives you a second chance I was lucky to have one in my life.
My donor was my lil brother (100%match), my life saviour. Cancer has given me more strength and positivity to live life, be strong. Nothing shall bring me down. “You don’t know how strong you are until you have to be”
My immune system turns one
My steam cells are 1 year old and so far so good. Happy re-birthday to the kindergarten cells!
A year ago, I was right in the middle of the hardest time of my life. I couldn't be more grateful. I didn't know if this day would be possible, but here I am on the other side. Currently, I am NED (no evidence of disease) as per my last pet scan results. I need to still take care of me, so I don’t get any new infections.
My new normal
The recovery phase may have taken longer than it needed to. Once I finally accepted the inevitable change, however, I began adapting to my new normal.
When you’re faced with the greatest obstacle and the only choice is to live, you take a deep breath; look the hardship in the eye and focus. Focus on being well and focus on being strong. Live your life and enjoy each day!
Be grateful for every breath you take. Be a warrior and learn that the human spirit is stronger than any adversity. No matter what your battle is, just keep going and keep fighting.
I accept this as a moving point in my life which made me much stronger for life ahead. I still feel beautiful with or without hair.
Thank you everyone for your love and support. My heart goes out to all the cancer crushers and caregivers navigating this challenging and uncertain time. Stay strong. Keep crushing. You are not alone.
Harjeet and Mel