A long-awaited Hawaiian vacation in less than a month. Two weeks to retirement. But on that balmy June day in 2016, Lynn Aspey simply relished the thought of spending a little fun and sun time at the pool, so she grabbed her bathing suit.
And that’s when she found it. Two lumps in her breast.
Proactive as always, Aspey consulted her doctor, who sent her straight to the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center where she underwent multiple mammograms. As the room grew quiet, Aspey figured something wasn’t quite right, but it would be a couple of weeks for the OSUCCC – James experts to analyze exactly what was in her body.
Two weeks later Aspey was once again at the pool, celebrating her retirement and counting down the five remaining days to her tropical dream vacation. Then her phone rang.
Diagnosed with small lymphocytic lymphoma, Aspey was placed under the expert care of James Hematology Specialist Dr. Jennifer Woyach, as well as Nurse Practitioner Mark Reed, a psychosocial oncologist, Infusion RN Amanda, and an entire specialty cancer care team – all of whom, Aspey shares, “are so amazing.”
“Cancer is such a big thing to process,” says Aspey, “and I was just in shock. I was very dramatic at first, but Dr. Woyach was very calm. I feel lucky to have such a calm, top-notch doctor and team.”
As part of her personalized care, Dr. Woyach got Aspey involved with a clinical trial for high-risk SLL patients. They also worked with her to encourage a positive survival mindset throughout her treatments, because that was Aspey’s biggest fear: survival.
“I thought, ‘What will happen to me? To my family? To my grandbabies?’,” she shares. “Family is the most important thing, and I spent my entire life building my family. I still wanted to be around to cherish them.”
Her second biggest fear: pain. “I don’t do well with pain medicine and I’m allergic to most, so I worried I wouldn’t have any relief throughout treatments. I just didn’t know how I would manage it all.”
Manage, however, she did. Although her profession in non-profit work put her in front of numerous audiences, Aspey is an introvert by nature, so part of her healing was learning to speak to others about her disease.
“I didn’t want to talk about myself,” Aspey says, “but I found that not speaking about what was happening actually made others afraid to talk to me, so they drew away.” So Aspey began speaking up about her journey, which drew people even closer – and that helped immensely.
“The CEO of my company asked me to come back to work two or three days a week, and even gave me a sterilized office space so that no one would come in if they were sick,” Aspey says.
With treatments successful and complete, Aspey continued to feel more herself again, and thought, “What can I do to help other people?” She now trains her focus on staying well, surrounding herself with family and leading a company team to help others in whatever way they need it.