stage IV diffuse large B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)
In November 2014, my daughter Valerie was born. Shortly after, I was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection by my doctor and received 3 rounds of antibiotics because it just wasn’t going away. Life was hectic as I learned to care for my newborn and I was getting into a new routine. Some of my lymph nodes became swollen. I was having night sweats. I developed a rash and high fevers. I tried advocating for myself but I wasn’t being heard and I was told by my gynecologist that I was experiencing postpartum problems until my symptoms were so severe that I ended up in the ER.
I was finally diagnosed with stage IV diffuse large B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in January 2015 by my oncologist, Tatyana Feldman, at the John Theurer Cancer Center in Hackensack, NJ. I wanted to get better for my daughter as soon as possible. I spent 5 months going through treatment. Every 3 weeks, I would complete a 5-day hospital stay with 24-hour chemo drips. I had to take medicine and shots at home, in between cycles. I had a PICC line instead of a port due to the mass in my chest, so I wasn’t able to lift anything more than 10 pounds, including my daughter.
Once treatment ended, I slowly regained my strength, both physically and mentally. I am now 8 years in remission thanks to a wonderful team of doctors and nurses at the John Theurer Cancer Center and Hackensack University Medical Center and the never-ending support from my family and friends.
I learned firsthand how important it is to trust your instincts when it comes to your health–especially for pregnant women and new moms. Keep asking questions until you get answers that lead you to feeling well again.
I created Team Carolyn for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) in 2015 after my treatment ended and I was able to walk at Light The Night (LTN) that fall. Since then, my team has been a top team for Staten Island, NY every year. I love participating in the walks and have had the opportunity to sing for the whole crowd on more than one occasion. I also enjoy holding LLS fundraisers at local restaurants where I sing and my friend plays guitar. I even made a video for Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 when he revealed he had the same lymphoma as me. It featured fellow cancer survivors and a hopeful message. He shared it and it went viral. He is now in remission too!
I am on a mission to spread hope and positivity to others by sharing my story.