I was diagnosed in April 2012 with Stage 3A non-Hodgkin lymphoma. I had discovered a pea shaped lump in my groin in December 2011, but thought that I had pulled a muscle. I eventually went to the doctor in March as at this point the lump had grown to the size of an egg.
I had an MRI quickly followed by a CT scan, needle biopsy and then the node was removed for a full biopsy. As a patient at York Teaching Hospital, the investigations were quick, efficient and I could not have asked for more.
Before my diagnosis I had not heard of follicular lymphoma and was reluctant to get dragged into self-research on the internet. I felt that this could blow my mind and increase the worry that me and my family were facing. I selected two sites within the UK for information, one of which was Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research’s site.
Despite the initial thoughts that chemotherapy would not be required this year, my symptoms quickly accelerated to stage 3B. I had difficulty walking, suffered pain and flushes. I started chemotherapy in July.
I have actually spent very little time in hospital since my diagnosis. I have had a couple of stints - due to investigations into an episode when I lost feeling in my legs and also due to a lymph node infection. Again, the care at York NHS Teaching Hospital was amazing. They are definitely staff who go the extra mile ...... angels.
I attempted to work during my treatment; one week off and two weeks in during my three week cycle. It helped with structure and I am lucky to work at a secondary school that provides amazing job satisfaction. I have colleagues that are truly amazing people and, like nurses, go the extra mile.
Trying to work through the whole chemotherapy regime proved difficult and after the fourth cycle I had to go on sickness leave to focus on my recovery. I found even simple tasks were proving difficult; the tips of my fingers were becoming weak and tasks such as writing were becoming major tasks. I realised that my health was the most important thing to me and my family.
My chemotherapy ended on the 28th December 2012, my Consultant kindly rescheduled my last one due on Christmas Eve until this date so I could enjoy Christmas with my family. In January 2013, I was given the good news that the chemotherapy had worked. The nodes are now down to an acceptable size and they consider my current status as 'remission'. With low grade lymphoma, everyone is different - my remission could last months or hopefully years!! I am due to commence a Rituximab maintenance treatment this Friday which will happen every two months for the next two years.
Life throws you challenges and I know that the symptoms I have faced with chemotherapy were a short term pain for a long term gain. This challenge has clearly shown me how amazing some people can be.