Hodgkin lymphoma (HL)
Last spring, I was a normal college junior. I had just returned from spring break in the Caribbean with my best friends, and my biggest problem was party planning my 21st birthday that was coming up.
I had a bump on my neck for a few months at that point. I visited several doctors who all assured me it was just a normal swollen lymph node and nothing to be concerned about. My family decided to fly me home for a weekend to get checked out by my pediatrician who we trust. My pediatrician took the lead for further testing.
Within a few days, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). I was told I was going to need several months of chemotherapy. Life changed really fast.
I decided to go through the process of freezing my eggs first, then got my port placed, and then I was able to get started with chemo. I got treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering in the pediatric section. My team of doctors and nurses was so beyond wonderful.
Nothing about it was easy. There were a lot of long days spent in the hospital. Chemo is very tough on the body, so it was important to allow myself to rest in between treatments. I found aromatherapy and holistic medicine to be very helpful during this time as well.
Losing my hair was one of my biggest fears when I first got diagnosed. My chemotherapy regimen pretty much guaranteed complete hair loss. I decided to use Paxman Scalp Cooling, and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to do so. It added two hours to my already long chemo days and definitely made things harder. However, I am now in remission, and I still have all my hair. Nobody can believe I went through four months of chemotherapy. I am encouraging anyone who has the chance to learn more about scalp cooling. Cancer is awful, and it takes a lot from you very quickly, and there isn’t much you can control. Having the choice to try to keep my hair, I felt that I was able to take back a little bit of that control.
I have such an amazing support system of family and friends. They helped me more than they know each step of the way. For anyone who is currently fighting their fight, you got this. My best advice would be to lean on your support system if you can, surround yourself with things/people you love, and never forget how strong you are.
Blood cancer is way too common, unfortunately. I reached out to someone at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) when I first got diagnosed, and they were happy to answer any questions I had and gave me a sense of comfort. The website was especially helpful to me because it provided information, and I knew I was able to trust it. I am grateful for organizations like LLS for fundraising and advocating for blood cancer while inspiring those fighting.