A few months before my wedding in 2005, I saw my GP because I’d been feeling tired and had lost weight, but I was mostly worried about a lump in my neck. The doctor didn’t have time to check it out properly and wasn’t too worried, so I didn’t think anything else of it.
Six months after my wedding, I noticed that the lump in my neck seemed to be getting bigger. My new GP referred me for an ultrasound and blood tests.
I then saw a specialist, who did a core biopsy on the spot. A few days later, he called me and said, “Well, I think it’s Hodgkin lymphoma.” We’d discussed that possibility, so it wasn’t a huge shock to me but it was still upsetting.
After an excision biopsy that confirmed the diagnosis, I had chemotherapy one day a fortnight for six months. The main side effect was nausea, but medication helped. I had at least a week between treatments where I felt fine. I even managed to finish all of my uni assignments.
When my treatment ended, scans showed I was in remission, but I relapsed a year later. I’ve relapsed several times and had chemotherapy, radiation therapy and an autologous stem cell transplant using my own stem cells. I then had a bone marrow transplant with my brother as the donor and went into remission. I’ve now been in remission for 12 years.
Once I went into remission, I had a PET scan every year for five years. Now I visit my haematologist every year for blood tests and a general check-up.
It’s taken me a number of years to get my stamina back to where I can work more hours and feel like I’m not constantly lacking energy. That’s something I’ll have to deal with for a while, but at least I’m healthy now.
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