Seven years ago I was 18 years old and a freshman in college. I could not have been more proud of myself. I had a 3.7 GPA, I joined the cheerleading team (first time I ever cheered before), became a member of a sorority and was involved in a local organization related to my major.
I went home for Thanksgiving dinner and my family noticed I didn't look well. I knew something was wrong, but I had an "excuse" for all my symptoms. The next thing I knew, I was scheduled for surgery to have a lymph node removed under my arm. The surgery took place a few days later, and I was disappointed that I had already missed two days of class. All I wanted to do was go back to school and let this all be over. Therefore, I convinced myself that I would have this lymph node removed and be back at school in no time. Little did I know that was not the case.
A week after surgery I went for a check-up and was then brought into the doctor’s office. It all happened so fast, and I'll never forget the conversation that took place next. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease and met with an oncologist that day! I was told that I could not go back to school and had to start treatment immediately. I was unable to return back to school to finish my finals for the current semester, and I was forced to take the spring semester off. I was devastated.
I'm not sure if I ever truly processed what was happening. I just remember staying focused on getting through chemotherapy and determined to go back to school. Six months later, I finished all 12 rounds of chemo and I not only returned to school for the following semester, I doubled up on my classes and graduated with my class! It’s seven years later and I'm in the midst of planning my wedding. I would have never had the chance to be here if it wasn't for my support team, researchers, oncologist, societies such as LLS and many more. I want to dedicate this to current patients and their caregivers affected by LLS and remind them to stay strong and positive. Most importantly, have a goal. Give yourself something to look forward to because you deserve it!