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Being lumped with lymphoma

Posted by
20 Mar 2015

I’m not a great talker, I get by through mumbling and find small talk painfully unbearable. The idea of talking out loud about my feelings, or myself in general, feels unnecessary – I’d take listening to hours and hours of my friends love dramas over talking about myself any day.

But now I have something that I can’t avoid talking about, something I can’t mumble my way through and something that unfortunately tops the tearful love dramas – damn it. So this is where this blog comes in, a platform for talking and sharing something without having to actually talk. I’m sold.

So lets introduce this ‘something’ and reason for this blog, no round of applause people, just lots of heavy booing, jeering and hissing, to the alien bastard that is Cancer. non-Hodgkin follicular lymphoma to be exact.

I’d been having stomach trouble for a while. It was about 2 years ago that I had an ultrasound on my abdomen, it showed a 2cm cyst around my liver, the doctor wasn’t concerned, so I wasn’t concerned, they would monitor it with three monthly scans. But they didn’t. So after months and months of hospital examinations, A&E trips, various medications being thrown my way and doctors dismissive of anything serious being wrong because of my age. So because nothing was wrong, and because they didn’t feel I needed regular scans, I went travelling. Win. Three months in Australia and Thailand was something i’d been wanting to do for ages – how very original. A carefree, 20 something traveller – bliss! But despite the idyllic beaches, copious amounts of Chang and this great, great tan I was getting, I knew my body wasn’t happy. I could no longer put my swollen stomach down to a laddish beer belly – I mean who am I kidding, my copious amount of Chang was 2, and maybe a slurp of a Thai cocktail bucket!

So I came home.

After being seen by a brand new shiny doctor at a brand new shiny surgery and explaining to him that I had this overwhelming feeling that I was carrying in my body something that just shouldn’t be there, an alien of some sort, which of course sounds ridiculously crazy but there was no other way to explain it, he suggested we re-do all tests carried out at previous surgeries. I was referred to a gastroenterologist consultant and from results of an ultrasound I was rushed to a Haematologist consultant. A haematologist, a blood doctor. Bizarre, but I wasn’t at all worried, my blood was fine, I was never ill, and having worked with children for the past 8 years i’d built up this incredibly unbreakable immune system, I was untouchable! Just like my trusty (now rusty) peugeot 206 that had survived, well 7 years of me torturing it – I won’t go into details, partly because there’s too many stories to tell and mainly because no one would get in the car with me again! But basically me and my peugeot are as ‘ard as nails!

Sooo, the news then that the lymph node that sits alongside my aorta that should be 1cm in size had grown to 7x10cm, well, there were no words. I stared at the image of this alien mass for what feels like forever. I remember being told by someone prior to this appointment, that you should only worry if you’re seeing an oncologist – they’re the guys you never want to see, ever, and as I was seeing a haematologist it was fine, so when he handed me an emergency oncologist chemotherapy card, I knew then that I was well and truly fucked! Its like when Charlie had the golden ticket in his hands, except completely not. Charlie’s ticket was the start of something incredibly happy and amazing, my ticket was cancer and my chocolate factory was a hospital. Screw Charlie and his luck. I could do with a chocolate factory and an army of chocolate covered Umpa Lumpas right now.

I don’t cry, I keep my feelings under lock and key, I’m untouchable remember, the tears then that involuntarily fell once I heard this news, well they just wouldn’t stop. Shock, terror, disbelieve, a multitude of feelings and thoughts came flooding in. It was just unbearable. Like the bury my head in the sand type of girl that I am I picked up my coat and bag, and in a very British manner shook the consultants hand and thanked him – its funny, even in the most desperate of situations we always fall back on our very British politeness, and with tears streaming down my face I walked out of the room. If I didn’t hear anymore then surely it wouldn’t be true. Running away from things had always worked in the past, so why not now? So I left my sister in there to continue talking to the consultant. My sister, my incredibly brave, supportive, and positive sister came out of that room with an energy of defiance, I would beat this, this was one thing that I couldn’t run away from and that I had to face head on. And so, let the battle commence. I’m ready.

You can follow Charlotte's progress through her treatment on her personal blog 'lumped with lympohma'.



Hi Charlotte, 

I'm very sorry to hear your diagnosis. 

Even though I work in cancer clinical trials, I realised recently how little I know about what patients go through so I will follow your story with keen interest. Thank you for sharing it with us.

I wish you the very best of luck. There's a small army of doctors, researchers, nurses, technicians, programmers, fund raisers and volunteers gunning for you.