Hodgkin lymphoma (HL)
In May of 2020, shortly after the first lockdown for COVID-19, I noticed a small lump on the side of my neck. Living in Southern Indiana during the spring, I usually get allergies from the fields, so I thought I just had a swollen lymph node from that. Considering I was only 15 at the time, the last thing that ever crossed my mind was the possibility of cancer. But after a month, the lymph node had yet to go down and had done the opposite. It slowly progressed and eventually moved to the other side of my neck. It took us a long time to get into a doctor’s office due to COVID, but finally, after eight months on December 9, 2020, we had made it into a doctor’s office.
At this point, I had lost nearly 20 pounds (not on purpose), was extremely depressed, and fatigued. Due to the location of swelling and my mental state at the time, the doctor thought it simply had something to do with my thyroid. So after many blood tests and CT scans, within only a few days, I was being rushed to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana.
All I remember feeling was absolute fear of what my teenage years would turn out to be, and how my life would be majorly altered soon. At Riley, I got more tests and scans and met with the hematology-oncology team where they told my family they believed it was Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (HL).
On December 18, 2020, I had a biopsy on my neck. Within a few days, they confirmed it was HL and I was sent back for a PET scan. Then on December 22, 2020, three days before Christmas, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Not exactly the present a 15-year-old girl was hoping for that year.
On January 5, 2021, I had a PICC line placed and I began my chemo treatments. I had five rounds of ABVE-PC, with four days of infusion each round (20 infusions total). During my third round, I had major dental surgery, PICC line removal, and port placement all at once. Shortly after all that, I began losing my ability to walk due to peripheral neuropathy and partial paralysis in my legs from the vincristine. I was wheelchair-bound until nearly July, two months after my last chemo on April 7, 2021. After chemo, I had 20 sessions of chest radiation and then later a few weeks of physical therapy.
On July 26, 2021, I was officially declared cancer-free. Now I am almost finished with my junior year of high school and am beginning to plan my career after high school. I plan on attending Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis or Indiana University Bloomington to major in psychology.