First Lady of Tennessee, Maria Lee, Shares Her Experience with Lymphoma

What is Lymphoma?

First Lady of Tennessee, Maria Lee, Shares Her Experience with Lymphoma

No one ever thinks they will hear the words, “you have cancer.” Those words rang in my ears just over one year ago, and it’s surreal to know that not only did I have cancer, but I am now on the other side in remission.  

In August 2022,  I was diagnosed with peripheral T-cell lymphoma, NOS (which is extremely uncommon), and I was simultaneously informed that I had an unusual hyperinflammatory condition, called HLH, that was triggered by the onset of the cancer. Being faced with two extremely rare conditions was quite sobering and somewhat daunting. Yet, I felt a sense of peace through it all. I have a deep faith, and I knew the Lord would be with me every step of the way. Not once did I ever lose hope.

The Lord’s fingerprints were visible throughout every phase of my battle with cancer. He immediately began to care for me by placing amazing doctors and nurses on my medical team. Their expertise and knowledge, along with their patience with my one million questions, were so valuable as I walked through the treatment process. I’m so grateful for the ways they helped calm my spirit and alleviate my fears.

The Lord placed my husband in my life over 15 years ago, and I hold steadfast to the assurance that He knew Bill would be the ultimate caregiver and calming factor during the trying times in my life, a belief that has proven true throughout this journey. He encouraged me and helped me when I was doubting. He advocated on my behalf and communicated with the doctors in a way I was not able to. His presence each day by my side gave me an overwhelming sense of security.

Family and friends, whom I often could not spend time with in person due to my type of cancer, were also a great source of strength for me. Their daily calls, texts and prayers cured any loneliness I was experiencing. Because I had to be isolated during certain times, it was a true blessing any time I could have loved ones around me. Their presence with me in the hospital or while I was resting at home helped tremendously to keep my spirits up. Having family and friends sit with me during chemo treatments, and then when I ultimately had my stem cell transplant, I know made the difficult moments a little easier and the dark days much brighter.

Reflecting on my journey, I do not know how I would have made it through were it not for my family, friends, physicians and faith. Each played a crucial role in my comfort and well-being during my treatment and continue to do so during my recovery and remission.

I can’t explain why the Lord healed me so expediently and has been so faithful to me throughout this journey while others facing the same or similar diagnoses continue to battle the cancer in their bodies. It is a blessing that I praise God for each day. I am so grateful and do not take for granted all the Lord has done.