9 years ago I was settling in to a newly bought home with my partner and my 2 year old girl Ella. I had also just passed my driving test which I was super chuffed about!
It was then that I first started noticing a raised and unpainful lump in my next on the right side... I had left it as it was quite small but as a few months went on I noticed it was getting slightly larger then also felt a few pea size lumps inside my collar bone. I was then told by my partner to book in at the docs.
At that time cancer never crossed my mind. I was 22. So off I went to my regular nurse practitioner, Annie, and she did the appropriate examinations and blood tests. Still cancer was never mentioned or had even remotely crossed my mind.
On the next visit to the docs she then got a GP to look at me and then referred me up to the hospital. Still cancer wasn't mentioned. After numerous appointments and tests which resulted in a camera up my nose, X-rays, ultrasound scans and CT scans I was then told the news. I had Hodgkin lymphoma.
At the time it did not scare me. I had been so wonderfully treated at every stage and at the appointment. I felt very safe.
Biopsy and initial treatment
A biopsy under General anesthetic was then done to determine how far it had spread with a Bone Marrow Biopsy taken also (ouch!). I was then informed that I had Grade 2a Hodgkins lymphoma and that I would start ABVD chemotherapy straight away.
Even at this time I felt safe I was told that this form of cancer was very curable and with that I did not slip into poor me I have cancer. I looked at it like this is what needs to be done for it to go away. It was then my fight started.
6 months of Chemotherapy takes it out of you. My side effects included sickness and body pain BUT thankfull a very small amount of hair loss. I was quite surprised by this as this was the one thing I was more worried about not for me personally but for my 2 year old.
Treatment worked reall well - everything my Haematologist did for me was truly amazing. Doc Ob I called him! He is a genius in his field.
I then went onto have 3 weeks of precautionary radiotherapy. I found this slightly harder and more scary to deal with and up until this point I have very little memory of it all.
Before my treatment had started we knew the risks of not been able to have children but this didn't matter to me as I already had a gorgeous girl.
Remission and life after treatment
In May of 2007 I was told I was cancer free! I then said I would not look back at that time in my life and look forward to planning things with my partner and girl.
Then in September of 2008 I wasn't well before I went to see my Haematologist who said there was nothing to worry about on the lymphoma front. So I took a simple pregnancy test just in case. The test was positive! I was pregnant! I couldn't believe it.
I played safe and didn't get too attached to the pregnancy to begin with. Afterall, this was within a year after my treatment had ended! It wasn't until 4 and a half months I told everyone. I told my best friend on the day of her wedding 21st December (trying to contain a bump in a bridesmaid dress was very hard work!!). I then gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy 25th June 2009!!!
I was given such a blessing and he is so healthy.
Me and my partner Craig then got married on October 31st 2009 with Ella as a flowergirl and Louie was christened on the same day. Everything was complete.
Fast forward a few years and, yes, I've had a couple of scares. I've also battled with a little depression and anxiety but I'm working so hard to get through this. Is this part of the ordeal that it cancer? Or is this just general life? I've not yet been able to answer that but I do know that cancer does not rule me or define me as a person and that would be my one piece of advice to anyone reading this affected by blood cancer.
I hope I've helped just one person by sharing my experiences.
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