For those of you who don't know or for those of you who do, I was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 nodular sclerosis Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Is this a joke!?!"
"I'm only 20 are you kidding me."
"There's absolutely no way."
These were some of the many thoughts that were bouncing through my mind when I found out. There is no way to prepare for this. Never in a trillion years did I think that I would be faced with this hurdle at 20.
It all started three months ago when I woke up with debilitating lower back pains. After 2 months of unsuccessful chiropractic treatment, my chiropractor (who turned out to be my savior) urged me to get an MRI. Then the fun began. After the highly abnormal MRI came the bloodwork, the CT scan, the PET scan, the bone marrow biopsy, the EKG, the Lung Function Test, the surgical lymph node biopsy with overnight hospital stay, the surgical port procedure, and finally my first chemo treatment. This all happened within 3 weeks. 3 weeks of non-stop appointments, procedures, and biopsies. 3 weeks was all it took to change everything.
Before I continue, I think it's important to learn a little about Hodgkin's lymphoma. The American Cancer Society breaks it down perfectly.
Here's a wonderful summary:
To help ease your mind, it's also important for you to understand that I fall into the favorable category of Stage 4. This is because I am a woman (girl power), I have no previous medical history, I am VERY healthy, I have good protein levels, etc.
Now that you hopefully have a basic grasp about my diagnosis, I want to share some information about my treatment. Chemotherapy is the main treatment for most people with Hodgkin's. Chemo drugs enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body to reach and destroy cancer cells. Chemo for classic Hodgkin's lymphoma combines several drugs because different drugs kill cancer cells in different ways.
ABVD is the most common regimen used in the United States, and it is my chemotherapy drug concoction. My treatments take place once every 2 weeks. After 4 treatments of chemo, I will get another PET scan that will determine the following 4 months of my treatment. My first round of chemo started on Monday, May 13th, and (I know I sound crazy) but I loved every minute of it. The nurses were so nice. I was relaxed in a recliner. It was oddly comforting being surrounded by others getting treatment. I was also excited to get the ball rolling. I welcomed the ABVD into my body with open arms because I need it to start working its magic. Like now.
Although I was excited for my chemo treatment, I was not excited for what was to follow. The chemo definitely took a toll on me. Unfortunately, chemo kills good cells in order to destroy the bad ones, so many people suffer from a variety of side effects. The next 3 days following treatment were marked with fatigue, complete appetite loss, and minimal nausea. However, I am happy to report that after a few days my appetite came back, and my fatigue slowly lessened. Physically, I've been feeling better every day. Mentally, I've been improving as well. Yes, some days are bumpier than others, but overall I'm getting stronger every day.
If you're still reading this, I'm very impressed. You must really love me. Because it is hard for me to frequently update everyone individually, I've decided that I'm going to post daily on this site. I'll post updates on both my physical and mental health, as well as anything that pleases me. I hope you find comfort in these blog posts, as they are a fun way for me to vent my thoughts in an organized manner.
Again, I love you all so much. Your love and support means the world to me. The more people on my team saying 'FU' to Hodgkin's, the better.
I'm going to get through this one day at a time. One lame blog post at a time.
All my love,
Hi, I'm Lia. I have Hodgkin's lymphoma, but Hodgkin's lymphoma does not have me.