Hodgkin lymphoma (HL)
My story began nearly seven years ago on February 28 when I received the call from my doctor and heard those dreaded words, “You have cancer.” A week prior, I had gotten a lymph node biopsy for a lump that randomly grew on my neck. As a healthy 19-year-old, cancer was the furthest thing from my mind, and receiving a diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) was simply unbelievable to me and my family. Hearing this news began a three-week blur of diagnostic testing and meetings with oncologists, fertility specialists, and surgeons before my first chemotherapy treatment on March 23, 2015.
The next six months consisted of ABVD treatments every two weeks with blood tests in between to make sure my counts were not dropping too low. All of my hair fell out, I got progressively more tired and fatigued with each treatment, and felt like there was no end in sight from this dreaded disease. I just wanted to be a normal 19-year-old. The one thing that truly got me through this was my team ― my family, friends, healthcare team, and anyone who offered support.
After I finished treatment, I found myself lost. What some people do not realize is the mental toll that cancer takes is sometimes greater than the physical one. Even though I had an incredibly supportive team of loved ones, they could not understand what I went through. This is when I became more involved with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). I became a First Connection Volunteer and was able to share my story with others going through a similar fight. Looking back on it now, my involvement with this program was my first step in pursuing a career in social work. LLS recognizes the vital importance of mental health being a part of the conversation whether you are a patient, survivor, caregiver, or loved one. As a mental healthcare professional and survivor myself, I am so proud of the continued work and innovation that LLS puts forth in the realm of mental health resources.
Through LLS, I have been an intern, First Connection Volunteer, employee, fundraiser, teammate, and donor. I continue to support this organization because they are funding life-saving research and providing essential mental health resources to anyone impacted by cancer. I continue to share my story to advocate for people like me and as a reminder that there is more work to be done!