On Thursday, February 15th I noticed a small lump in my neck, but didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until 2 days later that the small lump in my neck had become huge. It was a Saturday morning and the last thing I wanted to do was go to the doctor to get this looked at, but because of how big it had gotten in such a short amount of time I went to the nearest urgent care. After being looked at by the doctor she told me I needed to go to an emergency room immediately. I didn’t think it was a big deal or anything because the urgent care just didn’t have the equipment to examine the lump properly so I just went to the ER to get this over with. The whole time I was there I didn’t think that this lump was anything serious and I couldn’t wait to leave. They took blood samples, chest x-rays, and did a CT scan and the whole time doctors kept asking me if I felt fine…and that was just the thing, I felt completely fine. I wasn’t sick or anything and this lump didn’t even hurt, I assumed the whole time it was just a cyst they needed to drain or an infection that they could give me antibiotics for and send me on my way. I sat in that ER room for hours and hours and after awhile I started to get in my head because if it wasn’t serious, then why was it taking so long to get answers? I kept telling myself that it has to be nothing because I felt normal. It wasn’t until my nurse, who had been so happy and upbeat all day came walking in behind my doctor looking down at the floor with no expression on her face that I then knew something had to be wrong. The doctor sat down and looked me in the eye and told me that there was no easy way of saying this, but it looked like lymphoma. I didn’t and couldn’t believe those words had just come out of his mouth. My heart-rate monitor was going off the charts and I felt like someone had just punched me in the gut. Honestly, after he said that one word, lymphoma, to me I did not comprehend anything else he was saying and the only words that came out of my mouth was “someone call my mom right now”. I wanted to believe he was wrong, I still do. I asked him if that meant I had cancer and he said to me, “In my professional opinion I would be surprised if it wasn’t cancer”. How in the world could this even be happening to me? How is this real? None of it seemed real and to this day it still doesn’t. I didn’t understand how he could tell me I had cancer when I felt fine. I was then admitted to the hospital where I spent 5 days there. I am beyond blessed to have the friends I do in Ohio because my room was constantly filled with people to the point where nurses would joke that they thought they were walking past a college dorm room every day. They got me through what were the worst days of my life and kept my spirits high, as well as my family members that live there. I had to wait until Monday to have surgery and confirm that it was Lymphoma, but we all knew it was. My doctors would come in and already tell me that they thought it was Lymphoma, but I tried staying as optimistic as humanly possible that maybe just maybe these doctors got it wrong. Unfortunately, they removed the 3cm golf ball sized tumor from my neck that they then found was connected to another 6cm tumor. After the surgery it was then confirmed I have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He continued to say I have an 8cm tumor pressing against my left lung and displacing my main artery and have several smaller tumors in my chest. I already knew that Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was what I had after hearing there was a 99% chance I had it, but after the surgery and hearing the doctor confirm it and hearing those words come out of his mouth that I had cancer turned my world upside down and shattered my heart into a million pieces because I knew then that this was all real. I just kept thinking why me? What did I do wrong? What did I do to deserve this? Why is God punishing me? But I’ve come to accept that this is my reality and I didn’t do anything wrong and God isn’t punishing me, if anything he is giving me this obstacle because He knows I can take this on. This is just a test of my strength and boy is He testing me. The past week I have been showered in endless love and support and I honestly don’t think I would be handling this as gracefully as I am without the army of people standing behind me telling me they are there for me and they will stand by me through this. It’s hard to say that I understand how and why this is happening to me because just the day before I was out with friends, living my happy and normal life. I had been getting sick often, but for the most part I was healthy as a horse. For months I had been having night sweats and waking up soaking wet to the point where my teeth would be chattering, but I just assumed I was stress sweating or having a nightmare or was just too hot. I had been losing a lot of weight, but I also don’t dance anymore nor workout half as much as I did last year so I just thought I was losing muscle mass. For months I had been tired and lazy, but what college kid wants to get out of bed? All of these symptoms are symptoms of Hodgkin’s, but never did I ever think to correlate those things to cancer let alone anything because I thought I was FINE. It feels impossible to me to have someone tell you something is wrong with you and you feel nothing and just want to continue to live life normally, but you can’t. It’s crazy because the doctor told me that this has been going on for a minimum of 5 months and could have continued to go on for another year before I felt something serious. It is a blessing from God that that stupid tumor popped up in my neck because it saved my life. I have a scar from my surgery that is very much so visible on my chest and although when people see it they probably feel bad for me, I wear it as a badge of honor. It is something I carry with pride because it saved my life and reminds me that I’m a fighter. I wish I could be back at school in Ohio with my friends living my happy normal life, but this is my life now and I have to change this to be my normal. I never thought something like this would happen to me, but it did and this very bad thing is going to change my life for the BETTER. It already has. It has opened my eyes to realize life is so short and can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye. Enjoy this life you have because you never know what’s going to happen. I’m so grateful God gives me another day to live and breathe and walk this earth. I can’t lie, I’m scared out of my mind and cry every day, but I know I’m going to be ok and I’m going to fight this thing. I have so much more to live for and it’s just so unfair that this is happening to me, it shouldn’t happen to anyone. I’m 20 years old, I should be at school stressing out about classes, not stressing out about staying alive. Unfair is an understatement, but I want to blog about my journey to show people that no matter how bad things are, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I know it and will be living proof of it. I’ve fought through depression for years and if that wasn’t bad enough try adding cancer to the picture. I will get through this, it is going to be a day to day challenge, but my message to everyone is appreciate your health, take care of yourself, tell the ones you love that you love and appreciate them, be kind to others no matter what, and be grateful for the life you live. No matter how hard things get, I know that I will be ok and I can’t wait to live a long, happy life.
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