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Christine’s Story (Hodgkin’s Lymphoma)

Christine's Story Hodgkins LymphomaTo begin, I am the 43-year-old mother of a 7-year-old boy, and the only other major medical condition I have faced before was getting my tonsils removed at age 4. I discovered a lump (enlarged lymph node) in my neck around mid-March 2015. I sort of kept note of it, as I had previously had enlarged lymph nodes that doctors had dismissed as my body fighting off an infection, and they told me that it would subside in a month or two.

In July, I made an appointment to see my pulmonologist for my mild asthma and to get a check-up since it had been nearly two years since I was last examined. He noted that I had the enlarged lymph node, and he told me that I should absolutely get my primary physician to examine it. I waited another couple of months before actually scheduling to see my primary physician and was examined by him in September. I told him that my symptoms seemed to be more in line with hypothyroidism than anything else. I had gained weight, I was lethargic, and my hair was breaking/falling out. He did blood work and established that it wasn’t my thyroid, so he referred me to get a fine needle aspiration of the lymph node. That was an uncomfortable experience, but they did notice from that procedure that I had some enlarged/atypical lymphocytes. I was still dismissive, thinking they must just be reactive lymphocytes and that I had some kind of virus/auto-immune reaction.

My primary physician advised that I see an ENT/neck surgeon for a full tissue biopsy of the lymph node. I delayed a few more weeks before scheduling to meet with the ENT. I met with him Nov. 5th and was scheduled for my biopsy by the beginning of the following week. I had the biopsy done on Nov. 13th. I received my diagnosis on the afternoon of Nov. 19th, only because the ENT couldn’t reach me the evening before on the 18th. I was in the midst of recovering from the biopsy surgery, watching TV in my bedroom, catching up on the Arrow episodes I was behind on. I received the call around 2pm on Nov. 19th, and it was a devastating revelation to hear that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He told me that he was referring me to an oncologist, and I asked him to be sure to email me the info because I was not going to remember the name in this moment.

Within 2 hours of that phone call, I had received the information for the oncologist and reached out to her via email. So before 5 pm that day, she was already on top of scheduling the necessary tests to get me on the path to treatment. By the following day, Nov. 20th, I had an echo-cardiogram scheduled for Nov. 23rd (today). I came to find out that the reason for the echo-cardiogram is so that they have a baseline for your cardiac health prior to beginning the harsh treatment of chemotherapy. By noon, I had received my next call for scheduling the PET Scan which, from my understanding, is the one that “really counts,” as this will be the one to establish how much of my lymphatic system is compromised at this point and how big the treatment plan will have to be. My PET Scan is scheduled for Dec. 1st. Hopefully I will learn what stage and sub-type of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma I have and will begin treatment in the 2nd or 3rd week of December.

This is my story so far. In my opinion, this is the worst part of the whole process: Knowing you have something that can be treated but being unable to begin treatment. Waiting sucks! By the way, to top it all off, I am moving within the next few weeks as well, so trying to plan a move and my medical needs at the same time is more stress than I would wish on anyone. Thankfully, it is a local move, so I will not have to find new doctors. So at least that part is easy.

Christine
California
Submitted 11/23/2015

The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

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12 comments

  1. Brigitte Estelle Gaudreault

    Dear Christine,

    Your probably moving locally and that for sure is lotsa of heavy work , but you made one great move…
    …and that is joining one great club full of strong great, inspirational fighters !

    ♡♥♡♥♡♥♡ KEEP FIGHTING LIKE A GIRL, CHRISTINE !! ♡♥♡♥♡♥♡

    with love from Québec, Canada
    Brigitte Estelle xxx

    • Thanks, Brigitte! This is a hard fight, because only a very small part is within my control. I now have a meeting scheduled with my Oncologist, Dec. 8th. I hope to have a treatment plan established at that time. Fingers crossed that the move goes smoothly and the treatment smoothly as well.

      • Brigitte Estelle Gaudreault

        Hi Christine,

        FINGERS CROSSED!!
        Keep me posted , will be praying for you ♡

        with love from Québec, Canada
        Brigitte Estelle xxx

  2. UPDATE: I have had my PET/CT scan and fortunately I have “very little of the disease” (as said by my Oncologist). I am diagnosed with Lymphocyte Rich Classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, in Stage 1 A. The Oncologist had me get a bone marrow biopsy, just to get all the information she can. I have my next appointment on Dec. 22nd, and will get a treatment plan in place. The Oncologist had said that I will likely be in treatment for 2-4 months, because I caught it so early. I am thankful, and looking forward to being healthy when my birthday comes up in April.

  3. Brigitte Estelle Gaudreault

    MERRY CHRISTMAS CHRISTINE !

    Making Christmas cookies almost finish , I’ve made 20 dozens ! When I will be done baking and the holidays are calmed I will reread your update with more compassion, haha! I am not the best baker so it(cookies) needs my total attention! !

    With love from Québec, Canada
    Brigitte Estelle xxx

  4. Brigitte Estelle Gaudreault

    Happy new year Christine !!

    I hope that your treatments won’t make you sick, if they do please keep fighting like a girl and prayers are always just around the corner! You write with so much wisdom and strength ! Whether your days are long and strenuously exhausting before or during and even after your treatments please remember that you are thought of and I wish you only the best !!!

    With love from Québec, Canada
    Brigitte Estelle xxx

  5. Thank You for sharing your story.. I’m currently going t hrue testing for lymphoma.. I found a pea size lump in my neck,, in October 2015,, with lots of tighness too.. I’ve had night sweats but nothing bad. Also I’ve had lots of shoulder and back pain,, and lots of sweating under my arms and feet ,, for no reason, , I finally have my appt with the surgeon us thursday for a biopsy, really nervous…

    • Brigitte Estelle Gaudreault

      Hi Tina,
      Please remember that ” IF ” your tests come out positive..

      REMEMBER THAT YOU HAVE LYMPHOMA IT DOES NOT HAVE YOU !
      So please Tina keep meditating to keep your thoughts in order and less worrisome, keep eating healthier, go on “ohsheglows.com”,

      And pray… Tina

      … I shall pray for you as well Tina! ♡

      KEEP FIGHTING LIKE A GIRL TINA, AND KEEP WRITING YOU HAVE ALOT OF FRIENDS !

      With love from Québec, Canada
      Brigitte Estelle xxx

      Ps.
      if you need more info from a friend please contact my sister in non-hodgkins lymphoma section her name is Diane Gaudreault, story written by Brigitte Estelle Gaudreault

      With love from Québec, Canada
      Brigitte Estelle xxx

    • Tina, I hope the healing from the biopsy goes well. It sounds like you have most of the tell-tale signs of Lymphoma. First step is to find what type, and you are on the right track.

      I had never had invasive surgery, prior to my biopsy, so for me getting the surgical biopsy of the lymph node in my neck was painful and difficult for me to understand what the recovery would be. I had the biopsy in November and now, 2 months later, the incision is nearly healed (used Medela gel, starting one month after surgery, to heal the scar). I still have some numbness on my neck around the incision, but that nerve is healing as well.

      The ABVD treatment isn’t too bad for me. I did get a lot of burning in my veins during the last drug (the D). I also had some constipation, because I didn’t take enough laxatives & stool softener (I took half of what I should’ve). Now I know what to expect, and my second chemo treatment is Tuesday, Jan. 26th, so I hope to be feeling even better following treatment, since taking all the right stuff makes a difference. I will be taking my anti-nausea meds and my laxatives, so that I can feel normal quicker.

      The nausea only lasted nearly 3 days for me and the meds were perfect to prevent the overwhelming nausea. I even craved, and ate a donut or two, on day 2 after my last chemo treatment.

      Tina, I recommend obtaining a buddy, through the Lymphoma Foundation, once you receive your diagnoses and reach out to a local Cancer Center for services that can greatly help with maintaining a healthy attitude and building a healthy lifestyle, to help cope with everything. I joined the Cancer Support Community, because someone referred me to it, and I am able to do yoga and group therapy through them, which will keep me strong during this whole process. I want you to find the support you need, to stay strong, too.

      You are still you, and don’t ever stop being you! *Fight like a girl!*

      Hugs to you, Tina.

  6. The gel is called Mederma. I didn’t notice that the auto-correct changed it on me. That stuff is fabulous!

  7. I just found out that I have Malignant Lymphoma. Had my biopsy last week and got my stitches out today. Doctor said it was very likely Malignant. Tomorrow I go in to get the full rundown from the doctor. I’m a 29 year old Japanese living in Japan. The hardest part for me is that I have no symptoms as yet. No fevers, night sweats, loss of appetite, weight loss, or anything other then swollen lymph nodes in my neck under my left armpit and groins. I had a large on under my shoulder blade above my collarbone but that’s completely gone and the rest are getting smaller. Guess that’s the really confusing part. Doctors say one thing but all I see when I look it up is people with symptoms. Just wanted to say I’m glad there are people who are going through what I am and sharing there experiences. Hard when you’re alone and trying to explain what’s happening to your body to people. My neck is still abit numb near the biopsy site hope that’s nothing unusual. Just wondering how come you weren’t given the CHOP regime? Isn’t that what’s usually used for NHL? Was chemo as bad as media portrays it? I wish you best of luck in your treatment and am positive you will fight this thing off and live a very very very long time.

    Best regards, Tom

  8. Thanksfor sharing your story. I have been searching for a similar situation. I am having a biopsy done and waiting for the surgeon office to call and schedule a first visit. I also have experienced weight gain. Everything I have read has opposite, weight loss. My lymph is in my neck and I didn’t have any pain until recently. Seems all lymphs are causing pain up into ear and face behind ear and back of neck. All blood work has come back normal, no infection. CT scans showed enlarged lymph. I have night sweats, itching skin, fatigue, and other symptoms that have been brushed off by doctors for the past 5 years. You are right its the waiting that sucks. Again thanks for sharing.

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