I was diagnosed with hodgkin lymphoma at age 26 just two weeks after giving birth to my first child. The diagnosis came as a shock as I had no idea what lymphoma was, and had not experienced any symptoms beyond what I thought were normal pregnancy complaints. I had felt a slight pain in my chest following my son’s C-section but felt it was probably related. After it continued into the second week post operation, I ended up in the emergency room where they thought I had a blood clot. A CT scan showed it was instead a tumor the size of a softball pressing onto my heart and lungs.
The doctor that delivered the news to me that night, while my newborn slept nearby in his infant seat, was not very uplifting. Without a biopsy they didn’t know it was lymphoma, but it was one of three possibilities the radiologist suspected. The other two options were apparently a death sentence according to this man. I was then told to go home for the weekend and call an oncologist the following Monday to start the process of dealing with the tumor.
Talk about devastating to a new mom. The first words I spoke to my husband upon hearing I may in fact die were, “I’m quitting my job.” I always complained how I didn’t like my career path in HR. I wanted to make a difference and spend my time in life doing something that mattered besides pushing papers around my cubicle. So I went back to school and am now a nurse!
That night in the ER I vowed I would live with no regrets if given the second chance. I would embrace every day and take every adventure I possibly could. Now I am 32 years old. As I look back to six years ago I am proud to say that I have kept true to my promise that I would live life to the fullest. I have traveled extensively, tried many new things, and have an amazing career path. Most importantly I am still cancer free and able to keep making plans, setting goals, and having fun.
For me, Livestrong was a financial tool available to help me preserve my fertility if I chose to have a second child. After some discussion, I decided I wouldn’t be freezing eggs. Knowing that Livestrong can help alleviate that very expensive financial burden from other couples is amazing! I was lucky enough to end up conceiving naturally just two years after finishing treatment and that child is now a healthy three and a half year old!
To any young adult facing a new cancer diagnosis, the best advice I can give you is that time spent in treatment will pass. I did four months of chemo and three weeks of radiation. It may seem to drag on forever, but before you know it you will be on the other side looking back. You won’t believe it even happened except for the physical scars left behind. In the meantime, when you are stuck in it all, take time to plan fun things for periods that you feel well enough to leave the house. Take time for yourself and try not to worry about other people worrying about you. No matter what, keep doing life because cancer won’t wait.