What made you go to the doctor?
- April 28, 2020
What made you go to the doctor?
I noticed I had swollen lymph nodes on the left side of my neck. My mom is a nurse practitioner, so I showed her when I was visiting one weekend. I asked if we could go get it checked out. I asked her what it could be, and she said I could have some type of infection or worst case scenario that it could be some kind of cancer. I was like, “Oh. Okay.”
What was your biopsy like?
I was referred to the University of Michigan. They did a biopsy on one of the lymph nodes, and that’s when it came back. I had it biopsied and then had all these other types of tests to confirm that it was cancer and not some type of allergic reaction or infection.
The first biopsy I had was a core needle biopsy in my neck. I had one biopsy in my neck where they just went in with a needle, and I had another one where they used local anesthetic and actually pulled out some of the lymph nodes. That was a weird experience.
He was like, “You wanna see it?” It looked like a white jelly bean. They just put a band-aid on the place where they took the sample from, and I was good to go.
When I relapsed later, I had a biopsy under my arm. That one was surgical. I had been under general anesthesia before, so I wasn’t super nervous.
When you’re there, you’re probably going to be there for a while because of all the paperwork and getting checked in. That’s where some of the nerves can really kick in. It’s really not a big deal though. I remember being in the operating room for the surgical biopsy, and it was pretty much just the best sleep of my life. That’s about it.
How were you feeling when you got the diagnosis?
I honestly think I blocked that out. I just remember the phone call from my mom saying she thought I had cancer. Once I got diagnosed, I was just worried about the next steps. I just had meeting after meeting and test after test. I was just going through the motions.
2. 1st & 2nd Line Treatment
You got a port?
That was another moment when I went under. Not a big deal. The first few days after getting the port placed is weird though. I was very aware that it was there.
About a month or so later, I didn’t even realize it was there anymore. It became a part of me.
It was probably weirder to get it removed than it was to get it placed.
What was your chemo regimen like?
My first time on chemo was 12 rounds of ABVD chemo. I went in once every two weeks. I did blood work and had my port flushed on weeks I didn’t have chemo.
My white blood cell count was too low a few times, so we had to delay chemo a bit and do some Neulasta shots.
The chemo regimen was pretty easy. It didn’t have too much of an effect on me. I was prepared for vomiting and being sick all the time. I was ready for my hair to all fall out right away, but it didn’t fall out until the second month or so.
Other than that, I was just really tired for a day or so after chemo. I didn’t really get nauseous or anything like that. My mom would drive about three hours to come stay with me after infusions.
Halfway through the treatments, I started to feel bad because I felt like she wanted me to be sick so she could take care of me, but I wasn’t.feeling sick. I think she wanted me to, but I didn’t really need her because I tolerated everything well.
When did you find out you relapsed?
I got a scan during chemo to check everything out. About two days after starting chemo in January, my lymph nodes went down. After finishing chemo, I had a scan a few weeks later, and everything still looked good. Then I got one every three months after that.
The December after finishing chemo, that’s when they told me it was back. I kind of felt like something was up. I had a swollen lymph node under my arm, so I was anxious to get it checked. At that point, I was almost a year out of treatment. I had been getting back into being active and living my normal life. I was getting excited with what I was going to do with work and everything changed because I relapsed.