Voiceover: "Just let me die." That's what Linda said after receiving her leukemia diagnosis. Not all patients believe they can conquer cancer. Linda and her daughter Marissa relived the first day in the hospital and the year of medical house arrest that was part of Linda's life-saving treatment.
Marissa Zanetti-Crume: Let's start back at the beginning. How did you learn that you had leukemia?
Linda Zanetti: Well, I had just retired from teaching, and I started feeling really, very weak. I also wasn't eating anything, couldn't eat. I went to see my doctor the next day. She did blood work, called later and said, "You need to get to the hospital right away." So--
Marissa Zanetti-Crume: Off to the hospital.
Linda Zanetti: Off to the hospital. And they did more tests. And I remember the doctor coming in and saying I had acute myeloid leukemia, and I just pulled a sheet over my head, and I didn't want to hear anything else. I didn't want to hear any of it. I don't know if I was in shock. I wasn't in disbelief because I, all along, thought, "I knew this was going to happen to me [laughter]."
Marissa Zanetti-Crume: What got you past that initial moment of not wanting to hear anything?
Linda Zanetti: I just kind of went with it.
Marissa Zanetti-Crume: Well, there's no time to really think.
Linda Zanetti: Right. I think I was thinking, "Whatever happens happens." And I know of several times I said, "I just want to die." I remember looking at you and mouthing, "I just want to die [laughter]," and you just shaking your head, saying, "No."
Marissa Zanetti-Crume: Nope.
Linda Zanetti: Nope.
Marissa Zanetti-Crume: Nope. That was not an option. We knew you, and we know how you deal with medical problems or issues, and for us, it was, "We're going to fight this, and we're going to do everything that we can. So you can sit there, and you can feel that way, but we're going to be the people who are pushing this forward, and meeting with the doctors, and asking the questions, and just sort of making sure we're doing as much as we can." But it was important for you to have that moment, though, because we're not the ones who are being told that we have cancer. You are. And so I think we wanted to give you that space to sort of go through that acceptance.
Linda Zanetti: Yeah. I guess, at some point, obviously, I did accept it, but I got to the point [with?], "Just tell me what I have to do and I'll do it."
Marissa Zanetti-Crume: And you fought the whole way, but you did what you needed to do. And, really, you were the one who got yourself through. Next round of chemo. Next round of radiation. And, oh, then there's this thing that's a bone marrow transplant.
Linda Zanetti: Right. And you were my donor so--
Marissa Zanetti-Crume: So I won.
Linda Zanetti: You won. Did you have any fears about that whole thing?
Marissa Zanetti-Crume: I didn't, really. I guess there was a little apprehension about just sort of being put under, but I think my reaction was just sort of, "Great. When do we do this? How soon do we do this? How fast do we do this?" There was never a question that this was the right thing to do. I mean, it just felt like I took a nap for a morning. I go under, they take a liter of bone marrow. I just generate it, so there's no real impact to me. I was bruised and sore, and then they just process it, bring it to you.
Linda Zanetti: I remember the doctor coming in with your bone marrow and the chaplain was there and said a prayer over it.
Marissa Zanetti-Crume: And then it just goes in your body, it knows where to go, and then it just starts doing what it needs to do.
Linda Zanetti: Being amazing. That was an emotional moment, thinking that you were saving my life. So anyway, the day came when I could leave. And when I got home, it was still a year-- "You can't go to a restaurant--"
Marissa Zanetti-Crume: Medical house arrest.
Linda Zanetti: Right. "You can't go to the movies. You can't go to any public places at all."
Marissa Zanetti-Crume: Can't really see people.
Linda Zanetti: And so I said, "Oh but I can garden." "No, you can't even do that." So I was, "Okay. Now, what am I going to do?" I got into my photography. I got into art. I did the sketchbook. I finally hung all those family portraits [laughter].
Marissa Zanetti-Crume: I was going to say, years of my life I've heard about portraits up the stairwell, and now you finally did it.
Linda Zanetti: Right. So it was weekly visits to the hospital, and then every two weeks, and now it's one month. I've done very well so far.
Marissa Zanetti-Crume: So you had said that you always felt that something would happen. You would get leukemia. You would get cancer. Do you still carry that, where you feel like something's going to happen, or do you feel like you've been able to kind of get past that because you've experienced it and you know what it is, and you know you can beat it?
Linda Zanetti: I don't feel as anxious as I did because I know that somehow you get through these things. Somehow. I didn't know that I was as strong as I was [laughter]. So I don't think about the future. I can't go beyond, let's say, a month. It's, "This is what I'm going to do today. I'm going to make sure I enjoy this day and take advantage of this day." I can't think about a year or two from now. I can't. People say living in the now, but it's true. It's not a bad way to live [laughter]--
Marissa Zanetti-Crume: No [laughter].
Linda Zanetti: --if you can do it.
Voiceover: Linda is now in remission, and her family donates to Conquer Cancer to ensure other patients face treatment with the same hope Linda was given. A gift to Conquer Cancer provides patients treatment options and the encouragement needed to embrace their conqueror within. Inspire a conqueror. Make a gift today by visiting conquer.org/donate.