stage 3 aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B-NHL)
In February 2023, I was on top of the world. I turned 27 years old, I was training for a new position at my dream company, I spent an amazing weekend in Nashville with girlfriends, and had just touched down from Mexico after spending a fantastic weekend with one of my best friends. Everything felt right ― for the most part. While this month was filled with love, laughter, and good times, it was also filled with night sweats, stomach pains, and overall feelings of illness.
In March 2023, I was knocked off the top of the world by the words “stage 3 aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B-NHL).” Those night sweats and stomach pains weren’t just bad food and a typical GI bug. When I first went to the urgent care that Sunday afternoon, I was never expecting to be transferred to the hospital that same night and told that it wasn’t a matter of if I had cancer, it was a matter of what type. Words like lymphoma, upper stomach, and cervical cancer were thrown around like a baseball. It felt like I was standing still in a room with everything spinning around me. After weeks of tests, scans, and biopsies, we had a winner, lymphoma.
Within a week of my diagnosis, I had a port inserted, I was admitted to the hospital and began treatment. The plan wasn’t for treatment to happen in the hospital, but due to how sick I had gotten, I needed additional monitoring. My organs, specifically my kidneys, were about to take a big hit, and my team wanted to make sure I didn’t develop tumor lysis syndrome. Additionally, my cancer was spreading rapidly, and I needed aggressive treatment. Back in November 2022, I had a CT scan for another health condition which specifically stated “no lymphadenopathy.” Fast forward three months, and I had widespread malignancy from my neck to my groin. I would come to learn that fast growth is a characteristic of lymphoma. The first round of R-CHOP was one of the worst experiences of my life. I had never been so sick in my life, and I honestly wondered how I was going to go through five more rounds of this.
Following the first treatment, the looming side effects started to present themselves. First up was hair loss. I went from having hair past the middle of my back to a bob to being bald. Next up was weight gain. The steroids I was on added 15+ pounds to my figure. From there things kept piling up. I spent 18-20 hours sleeping post-chemo, I developed thrush and mouth sores, and my energy level was non-existent. This was hard stuff.
But I did it! I completed five more rounds, and in August 2023, my cancer went into remission. I was in such a fight or flight mode during treatment that my processing is just now beginning. I’m not sure what the future holds, but I am so thankful for this second chance and opportunity to live a new life. My #1 goal is to live my life more intentionally. Having cancer at such a young age truly opens your eyes to what is important in life and allows you time to change where your path is going. I can’t wait to get back on top of the world!