A diffuse large B-cell lymphoma survivor shares her frank and funny view of coping with cancer.
The night before Diana Bosse intended to take off on a road trip in April 2019, terrible bloating, night sweats and uncontrollable itching sent her to the emergency room. The symptoms had bothered her for a couple of weeks, but she never linked them to something serious.
Following a CT scan, the doctor told Bosse that she had extensive swelling at the lymph nodes in her abdomen, which indicated cancer. “I thought, ‘Boy, I didn’t see that coming,’ ” Bosse said in an interview.
Her diagnosis: diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, the most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Bosse turned her devastation into humorous messages that she posted daily to Facebook. The coping mechanism led to her newly published book, “The Perks of Having Cancer: An Inspirational, Positive and Humorous View of a Not-So- Inspirational, Positive or Humorous Situation,” which she discussed with Heal®.
Heal®: What was it like to receive a cancer diagnosis?
Bosse: I was in shock. I had called my husband to let him know that I was going to stop at the emergency room and told him I’d call when I found something out. When the doctor came in, I was by myself, and he didn’t sugarcoat it.
What type of treatment did you receive?
I had to have some testing, so I ended up receiving a PET scan and bone marrow biopsy. Then they set me up with the R-CHOP — Rituxan (rituximab), cyclophosphamide, Adriamycin (doxorubicin), Oncovin (vincristine) and prednisone — regimen. I went through six rounds of chemotherapy.
Did you experience side effects?
I was very fortunate. I did not get any of the side effects other than losing my hair. I was a little tired, but I wasn’t nauseous. I never missed a meal. But cancer just really messes with your mind. I think you feel like when you’re going through treatment, there’s an end game, and you’re focused on getting better.
And then once the treatment stops, it’s like, “OK, now what? Am I just gonna wait for this ball to drop?” And it’s a horrible feeling to always have it in the back of your mind that it may come back.
Why did you decide to be so public about your cancer diagnosis?
I’m a sharer. People know my business (laughs). I started posting on Facebook because I wanted to help hold myself accountable. I wanted to try my best to stay positive every day. And then it got to be a regular thing. People started expecting to see my posts every morning. Whether they had cancer or not, they were looking forward to what I had to say.
Have you had any feedback on the kind of impact your posts have had?
Initially, I had people say, “Oh, my sister has cancer, and I told her about your Facebook page. So she’s going to get on so she can start looking at that.” Since I’ve written the book, people have told me, “You know, Diana, I have MS (multiple sclerosis), and I can relate to a lot of things that you’ve said in your book. It’s not strictly for people with cancer.”
Then I’ve had other people who told me that they are still struggling with cancer but read my book three times when they needed something to lift them up.
What can readers expect from “The Perks of Having Cancer”?
That you can find something positive in something negative every single day, even as hard as those days can be. I think it can give people hope. When somebody tells you that you have cancer and chemotherapy is going to be your treatment, you think the worst.
I was feeling poorly prior to my treatment. I couldn’t eat and was nauseated. I was weak and could barely stand to brush my teeth. I thought, “Oh my gosh, what’s going to happen when I start chemotherapy? I might not make it if I’m this sick now.”
Based on the book’s title, have you discovered any perks to cancer?
It really pushed me to meeting a whole new group of people, some who are traveling the journey now and those who are survivors. Anytime you get a chance to connect with somebody and make a new friend, it’s a great opportunity.
I also got to fulfill my dream of being a published author. I probably never would have published a book otherwise. I’ve written several but never bothered to publish them. Once I got cancer, I thought, “Well, if not now, when? Nothing is guaranteed. I need to do this now.”
Does a particularly humorous moment stick out from your cancer journey?
One of my favorite parts in the book is on page 51, about toilet paper. You’re so constipated on chemotherapy, and I was thinking to myself, “At least I’m saving money on toilet paper.”
I’ve never had a child, but I always thought (my cancer) felt like a baby was in there kicking. So, my husband and I decided we were going to start picking out names, and we were leaning toward Enema if it was a girl.
How has cancer changed your life?
I’ve always found myself to be a people pleaser ... trying to put myself and my family first and not worry about pleasing everybody else. If there is something I really don’t want to do, even though I feel like maybe it’s the right thing to do, I might not do it anymore. I’ve become less of a yes person and more of a person who does what’s really important to me.