My journey started in September 2014 when I was 20 years old. I had noticed a small lump in my neck a month earlier, at the time I had not long recovered from a cold so I just put this down as inflamed glands however it still wasn’t getting any better so I went to visit my local GP. After a quick consultation I was advised I had mumps! So I was told to quarantine myself for the next 2 weeks until I was no longer contagious.
Once that was over I thought great, back to normal, however after a few more weeks the lump in my neck still wasn’t any smaller, if anything it was bigger and I had noticed pain in my neck every time I drank alcohol, so back I went to visit another one of my local GPs. Luckily this time it was realised that the previous diagnosis I received was incorrect and there was something a bit more serious going on. I was sent for an ultrasound and bloods which confirmed I had multiple swollen lymph nodes around my neck and my blood tests were coming back abnormal. This is when things were really kicked into gear and I was quickly referred to a Haematologist who after some initial tests sent me for a lymph node biopsy.
I was finally diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in March 2015. Being told I had cancer was surreal, I was so scared I don’t think I really took in what the Consultant had told me until it came to telling close friends and family, everyone was so amazing so I knew that with the support of my family and friends I would be ok.
All I kept telling myself was, ‘You can sit around and be depressed all you want, but it's not going to change anything, you need to keep as much positive energy around me as possible to get through this!’
My treatment plan was 6 cycles of ABVD chemotherapy, each cycle included 2 treatments which were to be given once a fortnight, so I was given the option of having a PICC line inserted to make my treatment more manageable. Chemotherapy was one of the hardest things I have ever been through in my life so far, and I imagine it will still be one of the hardest things I have ever done. I spent many days, including my 21st birthday in hospital recovering from countless horrid side effects and complications, but after 7 months of fighting I had my final PET scan which showed all of the cancer was gone and I was in complete remission, I’ve never been so happy.
I am now in my 4th year of remission, I still have some anxiety when I know I have a check-up apportionment coming up which I don’t think will ever go, but this has ultimately made me a stronger person and I am so thankful that I didn’t just let my symptoms continue without real answers. We all know our bodies, so if you know that something isn’t right, or you aren’t sure please go and get checked out and keep going until you get to the bottom of your symptoms! Do not think you are being a nuisance, or that it will pass because it could be something more serious. Your family and friends are there for support, but health care professionals are the experts.