I have hit a strange part of my life journey. A little over a month ago I was diagnosed with mediastinal Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, a type of cancer that is unfortunately far too common as a cancer in adolescents (you can click lymphoma above to see a link that I attached with a little more information on it). Having just turned twenty, I never thought I would have to deal with something so frightening or intense. The idea of cancer and chemotherapy were always just a nightmare to me. Sometimes I feel like some day soon I may just wake up and find that perhaps it has all been a very bad dream. I had never had any surgeries or CT scans and such done. I have always been absolutely terrified of doctors and needles and things---I suppose that's why it took me so long to go to the doctor and get checked out in the first place. I had a very persistent cough (for about 5ish months with 2 colds) and a distended vein on my abdomen (like the puffy ones you get on your hands and arms, etc) that ended up being something that was helping blood get back to my heart because the mass that is right above my heart was blocking something that usually does that job. (I'm not sure how to better word any of that, sorry if it's hard to understand.) After x-rays, a CT scan, and a biopsy, the doctor let me know that there was in fact a mass and that I would have to undergo chemotherapy. I am now frequently at Norris Comprehensive Cancer Hospital where I have gotten my blood taken what feels like a thousand times, a bone marrow biopsy, and chemotherapy. I have done chemo twice so far and am finally losing what little hair I have left (I shaved it recently because watching my already cut-short hair fall out slowly was a pain/sad for me) and wearing beanies 24/7. I have yet to really wear a wig out + it's been sooo hot out. Aside from my constant drowsiness and gigantic old lady sack of anti-nausea pills, I think the hair loss is what is sort of really letting the idea that I have cancer sink in. Bald is scary and weird to me. I miss my hair and sometimes I have days where I just feel ugly. I've been feeling a little less tired lately since I've tried to avoid taking my more drowsy-feeling anti-nauseas--so I guess that's something. Thank God I have supportive, sweet friends that are there for me. This process would be so hard without them. If the PET scan I have done this week returns good results (news that the chemo is in fact working and the mass is shrinking at a good rate) I will have my third round of chemo (if my next blood test says I'm good to go) and then *fingers crossed and one million prayers to God*, only four more rounds and I'll be done (hopefully with no need for radiation at the end). Lord knows I'm damn tired of being stuck with needles all the time! Can't wait for this all to be over and to just be healthy and full of energy again. Depending on how I feel by the time school starts, I may or may not return for fall semester of my junior year at USC. Part of me hopes I'll feel well enough and part of me doesn't want to return looking like I do or having to deal with the classes I need to get over with/work I'll need to do but I guess I'm sort of excited by the idea that I will even feel good by that time in August. Hoping for the best!
If you've gotten to this point in my little rambly-vent-a-whatever, thank you for taking the time to read this and for putting up with a bunch of all over the place thoughts and things. I am not giving up, even though some days are harder than others and chemo is an absolute bitch. When I get through with this dumb twist and turn-y time in my journey I will be so, so grateful for health and for my grand, love-filled support system that is made up of my fantastic family and friends. "Cancer may have started the fight, but I will finish it."
"You have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life."