Martin OBrian
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Taking on lymphoma TWICE

Martin OBrian
Posted by
05 May 2017

A look back at my treatment battle against anaplastic large T-cell lymphoma


My original diagnosis in April 2009 took a long time.

I had a lump in my groin which my GP thought was an infection at first, then a hernia and then fluid. He thought that it was growing “too fast” to be cancer. Looking back I had the usual symptoms at the time (night sweats, another tumour on the side of my head, weight loss) but it wasn't until I had surgery to remove the tumour in my groin that I was told it was a “nasty” cancer.

A biopsy then revealed it was non-hodgkin lymphoma at which point I was referred to a haematology consultant. I was stage 4ab and scans revealed it was also in my spleen, lungs and stomach.

Treatment & side-effects

Treatment began almost straight away and consisted of CHOP chemo every two weeks over 8 rounds. I also had surgery to remove tumours on the side of my head and groin.

I had all the usual side-effects that you might expect like hair loss, fatigue and achy joints. I also picked up lots of infections as well as sensitvity in my hands and feet. Oh and tinnitus and chemo brain!


After my first rounds of treatment I did enter remission however I did sadly relapse but again it took a while before I got diagnosed. 

I had a skin lesion and the haematology consultant didn't think the lymphoma had come back (it was 5 years and 2 days). However, shortly after this the lumps in my groin reappeared, the night sweats returned and it was confirmed. 

My second treatment also started very quickly but was different to before. I had two rounds of cisplatin to get me into remission before undergoing an autologous stem cell transplant using my own cells along with high dose chem and more cisplastin.

Side-effects from transplant

I suffered greatly from fatiue after my stem cell transplant having previously been very fit. It was hard to come to terms with a bdoy that felt like it was 80 years old.

It's taken a long time to return to physical activity but I've set myself a target by signing up to take part in London to Paris.

Psychological impact and returning to work

I found returning to work difficult and the fatigue, anxiety, aches and chemo brain all contributed to a loss of confidence and motivation. This is one area I think employers could benefit from advice and guidance from cancer charities on.

Looking back my experiences with lymphoma have also made me and my family much more anxious and my kids worry when I tell them I've got medical appointments because of everything that's already happened.

Bloodwise's information booklets were very useful when I wanted to understand more about stem cell transplants and I want to do what I can to help them advance treatment further for patients both now and in the future.

More information about non-Hodgkin lymphoma is available in our patient information section. To share your story to help us raise awareness please email us at

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