I was diagnosed in August 2010 with angio-immunoblastic T cell lymphoma.
In 2009 I went to my GP with swolen joints and was referred to the hospital to see a consultant for arthritis. I had all manner of tests and on one visit I mentioned weight loss. He asked me if I had any other symptoms and told him of night sweats, a rash and weight loss. He sent me straight away for blood tests and a chest x-ray.
A couple of days later I received a phone call asking me to come into his next clinic when he told me he suspected that I had lymphoma and that he had referred me to the haematology department and that they would be contacting me shortly. To say that I was shocked was an understatement.
I duly attended the haematology department in May 2010 and my consultant confirmed that I did have lymphoma and over the next few months I attended appointments for various scans, bone marrow biopsies and a mammogram. Throughout this time I continued to work full time.
In September 2010 I started chemo. My first course was as a day patient at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. My partner, mum and dad came with me and it was a little daunting but the wonderful nursing staff were fantastic and explained everything in depth along the way.
My next 5 courses of chemo were administered as an in patient and I spent between 5-7 days in hospital receiving the best care ever. I started to lose my hair just before my first inpatient session. I kept putting off washing my hair for as long as possible and when I did it came out in clumps and then matted. I could not look at myself in a mirror and wore a cap constantly. My kind friend shaved the remainder off when I got home and it was so much better. In between this time I still attended the hospital in the day unit clinic for blood tests, blood and platelets. I also had 5 infections which required me to be an inpatient on intravenious antibiotics.
On christmas day 2010 I was admitted to hospital with a temperature and tests confirmed I had swine flu! What a great christmas I had! And I was supposed to be making dinner for my family. Needless to say they went hungry!
In March 2011 I received my own stem cells for a transplant and I started to feel better and returned to work in August. I still continued to attend my clinic appointments. I had a chest infection in the November but continued to work but never got over it.
On Boxing day I had a temperature and again was admitted to hospital through A&E. I had pneumonia so had antibiotics again but was discharged a few days later. I was still unwell and was readmitted on New Years Eve. A few days later I was transferred to the haematology unit where further tests were carried out and I also had pleurisy!
I received high dose antibiotics but by this time my hickmann line had been removed so every couple of days I had to have a new canula fitted and it was becoming increasingly hard to find a vein. I had blood tests every day and various scans and another bone marrow biopsy and was told the devastating news that the lymphoma had returned. This was the only time that I acually cried! I could not believe that after everything I had been through was all for nothing!
I was feeling very sorry for myself and told my partner and family that I only wanted to see them and my best friend and no-one else. I could not even speak to anyone. I asked the nurses to put a sign on my door "no visitors"! My consultant came to see me and explained that after the pneumonia and pleurisy were under control I would be starting high dose chemo again but a different regime and that i would need a donor stem cell transplant. My wonderful sister Lorraine was an exact match for me - I could not believe it!
I was in hospital for 7 long weeks! I went off the hospital food - not that there was anything wrong with it, so my mum and best friend brought me freshly cooked meals which I thoroughly enjoyed but was starting to lose my apetite which was very unusual for me as I love food.
I had a further 5 courses of chemo as a day patient but the sickness kicked in. I did not experience this the virst time rou d. I was sick daily, every time I ate or drank and got to the stage that I did not want to eat as I knew the outcome. The weight fell off me. I was a strapping girl - 18 stone at my heaviest! I had no energy and it was an effort to get out of bed ut I made sure that I got up every day even if I was just lying on the couch.
I was admitted to Manchester Royal Infirmary around 9th June 2012, starting chemo in readiness of receiving my sisters stem cells on 21st June. Everything went well and I only had slight GVhD with a rash mainly on the palm of my hands. I did get mouth ulcers and was in a lot of pain and was given morphine - wow what wonderful stuff! I don't think my family and friends were impressed getting text messages and phone calls from me at 4am!
I was discharged on 6th July, my best friends birthday - she said that was the best present she has ever had - getting to keep her best friend!
My recovery was slow. I was still being sick and losing weight. I still made sure that I got out of bed every day and I started taking my staffordshire bull terrier Jessie out for short walks, probably only 50 metres. But I persevered.
I attend clinic every 3 months at present. My fitness level is so much better. I have now bought another staffy and love taking them out. I probably walk between 3-9 miles a day - more than I ever did prior to being ill!
Life is good! So for all cancer patients stay positive, put a smile on your face and enjoy every day. :-)