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In 2004, I was a busy wife, mother of two young sons, and a full-time Research Nurse. I noticed a lump above my left collar bone, but I just made light of it and went on with life. I am a nurse and I should have known better, but, those types of bad things don’t happen to me, right? When I mentioned it to one of the doctors I worked with, he took a look and asked me to immediately make an appointment with my primary care physician. I made the appointment and everything rolled quickly from there. I had the CT scan and went back to everyday life.
While at work the next day, I decided to take a peek to see if the results were posted via the electronic medical records. After all, they were MY results, no issues there with privacy, so why should I wait for the doctor, right? I found my name and immediately scrolled down to the impression within the report, I read over and over, “suggestive of lymphoma, biopsy recommended”. Wait, WHAT?! I double checked the name at the top of the report, yes, that’s my name. I never expected the dreaded “C word." How could that be? I was a healthy, young wife and mom! I notified my doctor to advise him of the information. How ironic that I was notifying him. He immediately ordered a biopsy and that was done the following week. One week later it was confirmed that I had Stage IV nodular sclerosis Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
My world fell apart for a few days and then I found that inner strength to keep it moving and do what I had to do. I had a port put in, and ventured on with 6 cycles - 12 doses of chemotherapy, every two weeks, over a 6-month period. My “cocktail” of choice a combination of drugs better known as ABVD.
My family, (especially the women), were very sad for me when I started to lose my long hair. Surprisingly, I never really felt sad about losing my hair; I was too busy focusing on the finish line! I told myself that there was no way that I would NOT see my two sons graduate high school, go to college, get married and make me a grandma! I always tried to find the silver lining in each bad situation.
When I finally lost all my hair, I reminded myself that I was actually “privileged” to lose my hair. Sounds crazy, right? Well, some people didn’t have that option because they didn’t even have an option for treatment! So, I took the lumps, rolled with the punches and pushed through treatments. I crossed that remission finish line in March 2005. I didn’t cross gracefully, and I do have some residual long-term side effects. But, I sure am grateful to be here today!
I am forever thankful for the people who participate in and conduct oncology research trials. Working as a research nurse and having cancer empowered me to move forward. I have been a Clinical Research Associate since 2008 and have been working on oncology trials since 2013. I am currently working on a leukemia and lymphoma trial and take great pride in my work and great joy in giving back.
World Cancer Day