In the summer of 2016, I wasn't feeling like my usual energetic self and felt tired all the time. Initially, I attributed my tiredness to my busy life as a wife and mother with a full-time job outside the home. Some of my other symptoms were weight loss, night sweats, and a persistent feeling that something was always stuck in my throat.
By early September, the symptoms had progressed to experiencing difficulty breathing when lying down and a dry cough. I was misdiagnosed twice by ER and ENT doctors with acid reflux. However, after taking the prescription for two weeks I didn't feel any better. I finally saw my primary care doctor who ordered a CT scan of my neck and chest. The tests revealed a mass in my chest that extended into my throat and was pressing on my trachea. On September 30, 2016, I was diagnosed with mediastinal diffuse large B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. I was shocked! Hearing my name and cancer in the same sentence was devastating and by far the worst day of my life.
Lymphoma has touched every area of my life and has forever changed me. I endured nine months of aggressive inpatient chemotherapy and seventeen rounds of radiation. I’m here today by the grace of God! I made it through the worst year of my life with the love and support of my husband, mother, sister, three children and other family and friends. My support system was phenomenal, and today I’m CANCER free and doing well!
When I was in my hospital bed, I promised God that I would use my experience and the rest of my life to help others. It was on that day that I decided I was going to form my own foundation to help people with lymphoma. I formed a Light The Night team and participated in our first walk in October 2017. We surpassed our fundraising goal, and look forward to raising awareness and funds again next year.
To those who are newly diagnosed, in treatment, or in remission, I want you to know you are not alone. Every day, get up and fight for your life. When I was diagnosed with lymphoma, I didn’t know one person with the disease. Unlike some of the other cancers (breast, prostate, and ovarian), lymphoma lags far behind in awareness, research dollars and overall support.