Monday, August 26, 2013

My Story: Part 1

I have been working on retelling my story to help raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I will be participating in the Light the Night Walk on September 27th, and will include the link if you are interested in making a donation.  The research that has been funded by LLS has saved my life.  Donate Here.
Here is Part 1:
As most of you know, I have been battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma for over 2 years now. I was first diagnosed July 27, 2011 after suffering through the many "B symptoms" for almost a year. After several rounds of antibiotics, the fever and cough remained, joined by chest pain, night sweats, severe itching, and finally the noticeable growth of the lymph nodes in my neck. By the time my diagnosis was confirmed, I was on a strictly liquid diet and had difficulty breathing due to the bulky and fast-growing nature of my tumors. I started chemotherapy that August, after what I call "Hell Week". Each day was spent being poked and prodded, surgery to place my port, and bone marrow removed from my hip.
I was admitted to the hospital for my first round of chemotherapy drugs because they were afraid my kidneys would shut down due to the extremely large mass in my chest. I went through 12 of these treatments over a period of 6 months, my symptoms getting worse each time with less and less cancer cells to absorb the toxins. Which was great! My body was responding well to treatment and my PET scans were clear. I still had a 5cm mass in my chest of "residual" tissue. Mostly scarring from the lymph node being overstretched for so long. That lead to a 2 hour long consultation with a radiation oncologist to discuss further treatment to prevent cancer from returning. Unfortunately, radiation can cause secondary cancers and damage to the surrounding tissue. After weighing the risks, we decided to only radiate the residual mass in my chest.
I went every day for 15 treatments. Radiation was much easier for me than chemotherapy. It would zap my energy for the day, and left me with a slight burn in the treated area, but there was no nausea, or body aches, hair loss or weak immune system.
It was March of 2012 by the time I was finally done with treatments. I had to get my port flushed every 6 weeks to prevent blood clots from forming, but other than that I tried to jump back into a "normal" life as much as possible. And for anyone who has had cancer, you know that is easier said than done.

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