Kim Filer is on a mission – to live life to the fullest despite her prolonged battle with cancer.
In 2009, the Brantford resident underwent a precautionary procedure to remove a lump by her right ear. A biopsy revealed that the lump was a result of an uncommon condition called mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
MCL is a cancer of a specific type of white blood cell known as “B cell lymphocyte.” The cancer causes these lymphocytes to divide rapidly, preventing them from fighting infections. The B cells can accumulate in lymph nodes or organs, leading to tumours and other complications.
“Having lost both of my parents to cancer, I was devastated at first,” says Kim, “but I told myself I was going to beat this.”
Kim was referred to Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, where her care was overseen by Dr. Graeme Fraser.
“Since MCL travels through the bloodstream and the lymphatic system, it cannot be cured by surgery,” Kim explains. “It was three years of watchful waiting until I needed treatment.”
By 2012, multiple enlarged nodes developed around Kim’s neck, requiring her to undergo radiation therapy. Although initially successful, swollen nodes began to reappear in the following months. Kim started chemotherapy in November 2012, followed by a stem cell transplant in May 2013 and medication throughout 2014. She faced several setbacks including kidney failure and deep vein thrombosis, forcing her to spend more than 80 days in the hematology unit.
“The nurses said I have a guardian angel because I shouldn’t have made it,” Kim remarks.
She accredits her perseverance to Dr. Fraser and the specialized hematology care that is available at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre.
Kim’s battle with MCL is ongoing, but she is hopeful for the future. Her positive outlook on life stems from her deep love of friends and family, who are her support network. In particular, her immediate family has been with Kim during every step of her journey, including husband Greg, who Kim describes as being her “brick.” Kim’s youngest son, Mike, is the starting centre for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, so she is determined to attend every home game to cheer him on with the rest of her family. Likewise, her eldest son Ryan recently had a baby, and Kim looks forward to creating wonderful memories with her new grandson.
“The one thing you can control is how you carry on,” says Kim. “I didn’t think I would be here today, so every day is a gift.”
Kim’s journey has also taught her about the essential role donors play in enabling health care.
“Equipment and research is funded by donations,” she says. “It’s important to donate so the teams here have the best technology and can provide the best possible treatment.”
View Kim’s story below and consider donating to Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre Foundation by clicking here.