Angie's Stem Cell Transplant 2006

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Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

In Sept./05 I was diagnosed with Primary Mediastinal Large Diffuse B Cell Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. The tumour in my chest measured 10cm x 10.6cm x5cm. After I completed 6 rounds of CHOP-R chemotherapy, a CT Scan in Jan.06 showed that my tumour had decreased by well over half the original size. A Gallium Scan showed negative for cancer cells in my mass. We decided to do 2 more treatments to be sure we killed any remaining cancer. We now had to decide if I should proceed with radiation. Did the risks of radiation outweigh the benefits? My hematologist and radiation oncologist had excellent arguments for both sides of the coin. The decision was to be mine. They set up appointments for me to see doctors in Toronto and Vancouver for 2nd opinions. In Vancouver I had a PET/CT Scan (a superior machine to a Gallium Scan) to see if my tumour was active. On March 17th this scan revealed that my tumour WAS still active and had INCREASED in size from an early scan. This meant that I had Relapsed or Refractory best chance for cure was a Stem Cell Transplant. In my blog, I will describe what I am going through before, during and after my transplant.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Benefits of Cancer Support Groups

Benefits of Cancer Support Groups

The diagnosis of any cancer including common cancers such as breast cancer and even rare diseases like mesothelioma can result in feelings of fear, anxiety, depression and numerous other negative associations. For many patients, it might be a devastating diagnosis because it means scary changes. This is where cancer support networks contribute to the health of any patient.

What are Support Groups?

A support group, whether it is an online network or a group meeting in a physical setting, is any gathering where cancer survivors, current cancer patients and patients who have cancer that is currently in remission can go for support, advice and understanding.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the support group is not the same as a group therapy because the focus of the group is not treating mental health in a formal setting. Instead, a member of the group might lead the sessions or might invite a medical professional such as a doctor, a nurse or an oncologist to discuss various aspects of the cancer. Other groups might focus on emotional support rather than cancer education, resulting in groups that fit almost any personal need while you go through cancer and cancer survival.

Benefits of Support Groups:

The benefits of support groups will obviously differ depending on the goal of the group, but a few common benefits are seen with most support groups. One main benefit is the ability to discuss your problems openly with others who are going through the same situation. You will not feel as isolated or lonely when you have others offering similar stories and understanding your story.

Another potential benefit that you might have with a support group is better coping skills. As others share the ways that they cope with the problems and stress of cancer, your coping skills improve. You’ll learn new ways to limiting stress and getting back in control.

Any group that invites doctors or medical professionals can provide the latest information in cancer treatment options or advice on options that you might discuss with your doctor. Furthermore, doctors have access to the latest research, so they can provide you with details about new research.

Anyone who is just starting cancer treatment can find out from survivors what they can expect from the treatment, making the situation less intimidating.


Support groups and online support networks benefit any cancer patient or survivor because it shows that you are not alone and that you have options. Getting advice, learning more about treatments and talking to others about your situation can improve your outlook on your situation.

By: David Haas

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

I PAID IT FORWARD SO OTHERS WILL LIVE raising $7371 and completing 42.2km!!!

FINAL UPDATE ON June 5th Marathon

July 5, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

This is my final update regarding my participation in the Dodge Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon on June 5th, 2011.

There were over 35,000 participants in the San Diego event. Over 3100 of the participants (12 of us from the Halifax Chapter) were members of the Team in Training from all over the world. We collectively raised an incredible $9 Million for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. (Our Halifax Chapter raised over $65,000)

At our pre-event meal, we were told that research on treatments for blood cancer has evolved into improved treatments for many other types of cancer. By supporting the Team in Training you are helping to put an end to all cancer. At this inspirational dinner I was recognized as one of only a handful of survivors participating in the marathon.

The day of the race was charged with energy throughout the entire city. We were transported by bus to the startline….and awed by the vast number of people getting ready to begin the race!! We were organized into corrals as per our expected finish times. Each corral started a couple minutes ahead of the next….and so it went. It was a beautiful sunny warm day….my corral started around 7am… As we travelled along this route that showcased the city of San Diego, we were greeted with Rock n Roll bands, approximately every mile…the music injected us with an extra boost of energy… The support along the route was incredible…with cheerleaders at every water station….coaches from Team and Training encouraging us at various locations during the day….. There were cancer survivors holding signs thanking us for doing our part to help them ….pictures of survivors and people being walked in memory of…. Our end destination was Sea World…and we kept working towards that one mile at a time…

It started to wear me down a bit around the 15 mile mark as we faced a long straight away with a turn around point that didn’t ever seem to come….I knew that the distance we were covering had to be covered again in the other direction….it was late morning by this time, and the heat was starting to become a factor….plus my feet were starting to give me some trouble…. Anyway, I finally finished that section…and made it to a lovely park where we ran along the water….and off in the distance we could see Sea World….the sign said 6 miles away. It seemed sooooo far away, and my body was really starting to hurt….especially my feet. This last 6 miles, I had to dig really deep as each step was extremely painful. Near the end of the race, we had to circle a 2 mile desolate island, and it took all of my will power to get myself around that Island…. A Team in Training Coach from Montreal could tell I was struggling and walked along with me for quite awhile to offer his support….very cool. As I was in the last half mile or so of the race, our local running coach was there to help me get to the finish line…by now my feet were in severe pain….I was now running as it was too painful to walk…however, to put that in perspective, my running coach was walking comfortably beside me as I ran….so you will get the idea of my pace! J The last few hundred yards I picked up the pace slightly and finished with a run across the finish line in 6 hours and 42 mins…..

I’m sure I felt every emotion possible during the 26.1 miles.

Throughout the entire marathon I drew strength from my honored hero Natalie Flam and I also thought of Sarah Hawthorne and her amazing spirit that she shared generously when she was alive.

I especially felt the presence of my late mom walking with me every step of the way. I know she would be so proud.

I’ve faced many challenges in the past 6 years since I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. When going through a life threatening situation, it is so important not to feel alone. I know that a big reason I am alive today is because of the love and support I received from my amazing family, friends, and an excellent medical team. Again, it was your support and love that helped give me the energy to train and complete my first ever marathon. It was because of you that I was able to raise in excess of $7000 towards a cure for all blood cancer. I want to thank-you again, as I couldn’t have done this without you.

It feels great to be PAYING IT FORWARD so that others will live too!!!

A cure for blood cancers is possible! Wouldn’t it be great to be part of that!!

Angie Banks

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Please sponsor me and help cure blood cancers

Please sponsor me and help cure blood cancers

PAY IT FORWARD - A Cure for Blood Cancer is Very Possible....Would you like to be part of this??

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am training to participate in the Dodge Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon 42.2 km Walk on June 5th of this year as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada’s Team In Training. In addition, I plan to complete the Halifax Bluenose Half Marathon 21.1 km Walk on May 22nd.
All of us on Team In Training are raising funds to help stop leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives.

As a 4 year survivor of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I am eternally grateful for the many advances in treatment that contributed to saving my life.
If you want to read about my journey, you can go to
The photo above is of me helping to plant a King Red Maple Tree just prior to my Stem Cell Transplant in July of 2006. I call this tree "Mount Everest", as it signifies my challenging journey to wellness. Every time I look at my special tree, I am reminded of how far I have come and how blessed I am to be able to watch it grow.I am walking in honour of my friend Natalie Flam who I want to support in her journey to wellness and a life without Lymphoma. In addition, I will be walking in memory of Sarah Hawthorne who passed away from Hodgkin’s disease in early 2008. She was a beautiful spirit who is greatly missed by many still today.

I am one of the lucky ones as Research has saved my life so please help me PAY IT FORWARD so that we can save all lives by funding research and helping patients in need.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada’s mission is to find a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma.

Wow, wouldn’t that be fantastic!

You can help support me by making a secure online donation using your credit card. Click on the link below: will receive an email confirmation, along with your tax receipt for your donation and I will be notified as soon as you make your donation.

If you do not wish to make a donation online, donations can also be made by completing and mailing the attached sponsor form by May 15th, 2011. All cheques are to be made payable to 'The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada'. A Tax receipt for all donations exceeding $10 will be issued. Please don’t forget to include my name on the form so I can track the donations towards my goal of raising a minimum of $4000.00.

A cure for blood cancers is possible! Wouldn’t it be great to be part of that!!

Thank-you in advance for your support, and I truly appreciate your generosity!!Kindest Regards,

Angie Banks
Phone: 1-902-880-7508

Sunday, April 22, 2007

April 22, 2007

I can hardly believe that 3 months have gone by since my last post.......

I was re-reading all the comments tonight & once again realized how fortunate I was/am to have so much loving support through-out everything.

After receiving the news on finally achieving remission.......I ran around like a maniac trying to play catch up on all the things on my to do list from the past 1 1/2 years........PURE ADRENALIN.......

I forgot that I was still recovering from my SCT (white cell count was still only around 2.3)& high dose of radiaton (side effects were cough, fatigue & elevated heart rate)........eventually I CRASHED........ after that wake-up call, I smartened up & made sure I had more rest & a lighter schedule.

On February 17th, I took a celebratory trip with 3 friends to Turks & was a good trip.....though, I was feeling tired & a bit overwelmed by being so far away from the security of home......I think that this was a period of transition in my life. I was realizing a whole new outlook.

Since then, I have been re-building.......making changes.....& appreciating my life so much. I look at everything through new eyes......GOD I am so thank-ful.

On March 1st, I had a CT Scan. On March 9th, I had an appointment with Dr. scan looked good & my blood work was getting much closer to normal. I think that my whites were around 3.2 & my neutraphils for at the lower end of normal. So far so good.

I saw Dr. Wilke (my Rad. Onc.) on March 28th. A chest X-ray showed that there was evidence of calcification at the site of my "former" tumor.....he said this was a good sign that nothing was growing. He feels very good about the way things are going.

We just have to go scan to scan......if I can get to the two year mark....things will be looking really good....after 5 years in remission they will consider me cured!!!

I will be in touch!!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007



I have been keeping things low key for the past month or so, as I was waiting for an appointment for my 3rd Pet Scan.....

Originally, my scan was supposed to be in December 2006, prior to Christmas......however,

Dr. Wilke ( my radiation oncologist ) had been trying for over a month to get me into the PET facility in Saint John, New Brunswick, as they recently opened, and it would be a lot closer.(approx. 3 1/2-4 hour drive from Halifax)

As it turned out, he was probably the first MD to try to do this, and the head of MSI here had been talking to people in New Brunswick, and had finally got back to Dr. Wilke on Nov. 30th.

Essentially, New Brunswick wanted to charge Nova Scotia nearly 5 times the fee for a PET SCAN than Quebec charges ($5500 versus $1181) for service to Nova Scotia patients, so the Head of MSI told the people in New Brunswick that there will be no deal, therefore Nova Scotia patients will not be funded to go to New Brunswick.

Dr. Wilke also said that I shouldn't pay privately in NB either, as they have had some screw - ups already, as they fly in the radiative stuff from Sherbrooke, per dose, and have had flights cancelled, tests needed to be rebooked, etc, and they are inexperienced.

So, in his hope to get me scanned closer to essentially introduced a delay, of which he was sorry, as he wanted to get me scanned before Christmas.

Therefore.....this meant he had to go back to the drawing board & request another scan at the University of Sherbrooke Hospital in Quebec.....

I was actually OK with delaying my scan until January.......after the hecticness of the Christmas Holidays.

Anyway, Sue & I flew to Montreal on January 10th. Our friend, Lucien drove us to Sherbrooke on Thursday January 11th for the scan. Everything went really smooth during this trip....and after the scan was over....we had a great time going out to eat, shopping, visiting with friends etc.

The test results have been on my mind for the past week & a half........some people call it "scanxiety".......I tried to keep my nerves under control as best as I could......keeping busy helps!!

Anyway, after eating supper tonight....I sat down at my lap top to check my e-mails just after 7pm.......& there was the most beautiful e-mail from wonderful Dr. Wilke saying "GOOD NEWS" in the subject!!!

WELL.........this is the news I so badly wanted to hear!!!!!

The PET scan showed complete regression of the area of abnormal activity. It is no longer metabolically active.

There is no abnormal activity anywhere else. It showed a little inflammation in the lung from the radiation.

I am in remission. Remission doesn't guarantee a cure, but it's a good start.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Everything is still going well & I have especially felt better in the past week. I am still just going for walks, however, I will to start doing light weights & back to pilates in January. It is like I am starting over again with my Fitness.....another challenge but one I will enjoy!

My last blood work on December 14th showed improvement.....everything except my White Count is in the "normal" range. My White Count was a 2.8 & my ANC was basically at 2000 (that is approaching normal). So nothing to complain about there.
My next appointment to see my hematologist, Dr. Anderson is Jan.5th....just a routine check-up.

We are completely ready for Christmas....& now all that is left is the fun of visiting & entertaining family & friends......


Friday, December 01, 2006

Day + 136 Recovery is going well!

I know it has been weeks since I updated my blog, and I don't have a good reason......other than maybe I just wanted to stop thinking or talking or writing about hospitals & treatments & being sick for awhile.....just for a break!.......
However, it has been brought to my attention on several occasions by certain people ....that they get worried when they don't hear from me.......they have told me that they were in such a habit of checking my blog everyday, that they are disappointment when I don't write more often......SO HERE GOES!!

There really isn't much to report, other than I have not had any appointments since my last posting & I currently have not heard about any upcoming appointments.

My recovery has been a slow steady upward journey......sometimes I take a step back & then forward again. I have learned to manage my energy each day......usually I accomplish more earlier in the day & save the easier tasks for the like watchin TV :)!!
The past couple weeks, I have noticed a much greater improvement in the way I fatigue is less & I just know I am getting stronger.

I am continuing my supplemental program which involves.....a Multivitamin, IP6, Astragalus, Pro Biotics(acidophilus) , Ambratose (glyconutrient), Phytaloe (dried fruits & veggies), Flax......& sometimes my UDO's Oil. I also inject myself with Iscador every couple is basically a mistletoe root that helps kill & stop tumour growth.....this natural type treatment is used in conjunction with conventional cancer treatments in 70% of cancer patients in Germany.

I have also been going for Vitamin C IV treatments at my Naturopath's is approximately 2 hour process & I try to go twice a week.
Vitamin C is a known antioxidant and has been associated with reduced risk of stomach, lung, colon, oral, and prostate cancer.
Immune system booster. Vitamin C increases white blood cell production and is important to immune system balance. Studies have related low vitamin C levels to increased risk for infection.

Everybody gets cancer.Some of us die from it.Why?
Normal, healthy cells are arranged in a definite, organized structure to form tissues. They only divide to make a new cell when the need arises. Sometimes, a cell will mutate and disobey the rules. This is most often caused by free-radical damage to the cell, which is why we hear so much these days about antioxidants such as Vitamins A, C and E and Beta Carotene. These Vitamins neutralize the free radicals and slow their progress. This mutation of individual cells probably happens to all of us every day. As quoted in An Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide to Cancer, Dr. Douglas Brodie says
"Each one of us produces several hundred thousand cancer cells every day of our lives. Whether we develop clinical cancer or not depends upon the ability of our immune systems to destroy these cancer cells. That's because cancer thrives in the presence of a deficient immune system."
Why Cancer Progresses?
When a mutated cell has the ability to replicate itself with disregard to the tissue structure - This is a tumor. Our bodies have two basic lines of defense against tumor growth - both involving Vitamin C.
The first is our immune system. Even after the most successful surgery, radiation- or chemotherapy, some cancer cells are bound to remain. It is our immune system that will hunt down these cells and destroy them. Vitamin C is required for our immune systems to generate and mobilize the specialized cells that fight cancer and infections, too. The more stress your immune system is under, the more Vitamin C is used, if it is available. If it isn't available, the disease will not be stopped.
Secondly, there is a cement, or ground substance, that holds our cells together properly to form the integrity of our tissues. Dr. Ewan Cameron theorized that cancer cells excrete a substance, hyaluronidase, that breaks down the collagen and fibers that make up the structure of this ground substance which creates the space needed for tumor growth. Vitamin C is required for the development of collagen and this fibrous material. This is why it is so important to all tissue related problems, including disc injuries, gum problems, vascular diseases and even skeletal problems. It is a reasonable leap of logic that chronic Vitamin C deficiency is a major contributor to osteoporosis. Juvenile osteoporosis could probably be eliminated or at least minimized through proper nutrition.

In addition to my Vitamin C treatments, I have been using an Infrared Sauna at my Naturopaths energy skyrockets after my session...& my skin feels so smooth & my spirits are lifted & I just feel GREAT! There are so many benefits for FAR Infrared Saunas, that I think everyone could benefit for using one regularly. Do your own search on the internet, if you are interested to learn more.....however, some of the benefits are:

Relaxation & Stress Relief
Pain Relief
Weight Loss - Burn 300-600 calories per session!
Improves skin, reduces scarring & cellulite
Passive cardiovascular training
Boost energy, immune system & metabolism
Decreases lactic acid (good for over trained muscles)
Perfect warm-up before sports and workout
Speeds healing and recovery from injuries, sprains and cuts
Helps stop swelling
Improves lymphatic flow and blood circulation

This is an excerpt from CTV news last year:

Only read this if you are interested, as I do not intend to bore......
We live in a world where we are overpowered by toxins and pollutants. Almost everything we eat, drink, or breathe has toxins and pollutants in it. As a result our bodies are constantly trying to detoxify us but because the input is so great, we simply cannot keep up. Therefore, we store a lot of toxins until we can dispose of them.Someone once compared it to working in a factory where our job was to shred paper. As the constant stream of boxes came down the conveyor belt, our job was to open them up and shred the contents. This all worked fine until the conveyor belt started to speed up. As a result we got further and further behind until we had no choice but to stack some boxes in the corner until we could deal with them. Still the boxes kept coming and pretty soon we had no more room to put them. All we could do at that point was to shut down the conveyor belt until we could catch up.This is what happens in our bodies. If we take in more toxins than our body can dispose of, we store these toxins until we can get rid of them. But, if the toxins keep coming in faster than we can process them, our body eventually gets overpowered, shuts down, and we get sick. I believe fibromyalgia is caused by this type of toxic overload as are many other sicknesses and diseases.Therefore, to stay healthy, we need to decrease our intake of toxins and process the toxins we do take in better. If we help our body get rid of toxins, then our liver, kidneys, and other organs have more time to dispose of the daily intake and we store less and less. In an infrared sauna, the infrared rays penetrate up to 2" into our bodies, increasing blood circulation and cellular activity. By simulating a fever the immune system springs into action. Our heart rate increases and as we start to sweat, toxins are released from our cells and carried out of our body through the skin. This gives the heart and circulatory system an aerobic exercise as well. As muscles and joints are loosened up, we absorb more oxygen. This makes us feel refreshed and energized as aches and pains disappear. It has been said that to have a 30 minute sauna once a day for a year will get rid of most of our accumulated toxins and pollutants and help our liver and kidneys keep up with the rest of the detoxification process.Almost everyone I have spoken to who uses an infrared sauna regularly tells me the same story. More energy, greatly reduced pain, better looking skin, more flexible, loose muscles and a general feeling of health and vigor. I have experienced the same. The inflow of toxins is not going to stop unless we make some drastic changes to the world we live in. This is highly unlikely to happen in the near future. Therefore, the best we can do is to help our body detoxify so we can be healthier, live longer, and most importantly, enjoy a good quality of life.

"They spend all their health making money, and then spend all their money trying to restore their health." Anonymous

This is just one site of many that has a ton of info. on the subject:


Other than my naturopathic self imposed regime, I am busy trying to get my life back to a normal....Xmas shopping, decorating, visiting with friends, being able to eat at restaurants again, walking etc.
Everything is currently going along well & all of our family are looking forward to a wonderful Christmas & postive & healthy coming year.

I probably won't be posting everyday, however, I will try to update more often then my last posting.