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Part Four: Fight for the ones you love and yourself

This story is a first-person account, contributed by a member of our wonderful community – all words are their own.

It’s 28 May 2021, World Blood Cancer Day, and I’ve been in remission for 251 days now.

Rowena in January 2021 having her first blood test of the new year.
Rowena in January 2021 having her first blood test of the new year.

My results are showing that my body has accepted the stem cells my daughter, Alycia donated for my transplant.

Although I’m relieved to be out of the woods for now, my blood cancer journey is not over yet.

I’ve still got three viruses sitting in my system that I just can’t shake, and my lung capacity has also been badly affected since the transplant. We can’t determine what’s causing it but I’m on preventative medication which is doing its job. 

I’m surprised I don’t rattle when I walk looking at all the pills I have to take, but you gotta do, what you gotta do.

Healing my mind

When I got out of hospital, I talked to a psychologist over the phone for a period of 15 weeks. 

I had mentally snapped with post-traumatic stress disorder and I desperately needed help to process what I had been through. 

A week's worth of pills: "I'm surprised I don't rattle when I walk."
A week’s worth of pills: “I’m surprised I don’t rattle when I walk.”

I worked hard to let stuff go and rebuild myself. 

I’m now doing a 12-week meditation course for my mental wellbeing. 

The worst thing about being in hospital is realising how much there is still to do in your life and wanting to get it all done the moment you get out.

But I learnt a lesson when I came out of hospital in 2017 and know that going like a bull at a gate won’t get you anywhere.

I love your coconut, Mummy

The person that lifts me up every day and brings me to life is my daughter, Haylee. 

She is the sweetest little girl and has inherited my sense of humour. Every time I lost my hair she told me, “I love your coconut, Mummy”.

Rowena with daughter, Haylee during her treatment
Rowena with daughter, Haylee during her treatment.

I’m now able to drive again after my treatment and feel confident looking after her by myself. 

She’s just started kindy this year and since the Easter break in 2021 it’s been my job to get her up and organised in the mornings and pick her up in the afternoons. I have real purpose, something that blood cancer took from me.

Fight for the ones you love

If my four-and-a-half-year battle with blood cancer has taught me anything, it’s that everything can be turned upside down in an instant. 

But what can you do? There’s no way I would stop fighting.  

Rowena and Haylee enjoying Easter 2021.
Rowena and Haylee enjoying Easter 2021.

Even if something went wrong tomorrow, I’d still do whatever I can to continue beating this – because of Haylee.

I hope my journey inspires people to give this disease hell, don’t let it take you over easily, fight for the ones you love and for yourself. 

I used to blame myself for getting this disease, that it was my fault I got sick, like some sort of karma for all the bad things I ever did. But no one asks for this and no one deserves it. 

The evil of this disease needs to revealed for all the hurt it causes.

For ripping mothers away from her daughters, for breaking relationships, for stripping people of their identity along with their hair. 

This World Blood Cancer Day I stand with every other person diagnosed around the world and say to blood cancer; you ain’t no match for us. 

Rowena with her family.
Rowena with her family.

This is Part Four, the final part, of the four-part series, ‘Rowena’s journey: Real and raw’. In her own words, Rowena McLean shares her harrowing four-and-a-half-year blood cancer journey in the lead up to World Blood Cancer Day, 28 May 2021.

Read Part One: Boxing Day, bloody noses and bust appendix

Read Part Two: Needing some magic from ‘Mr Potter’ 

Read Part Three: “If your daughter could save your life…would you ask her?”

Last updated on May 24th, 2024

Developed by the Leukaemia Foundation in consultation with people living with a blood cancer, Leukaemia Foundation support staff, haematology nursing staff and/or Australian clinical haematologists. This content is provided for information purposes only and we urge you to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis, treatment and answers to your medical questions, including the suitability of a particular therapy, service, product or treatment in your circumstances. The Leukaemia Foundation shall not bear any liability for any person relying on the materials contained on this website.