HOW TAKING MY HEALTH INTO MY OWN CARE SAVED MY LIFE

From before my diagnosis to middle of treatment, I captured my journey through photos.

THE STORY LEADING UP TO MY CANCER DIAGNOSIS …

I am fortunate to say that I had great health as a child and teenager. My parents would only serve me fresh organic food and make sure I took my vitamins everyday. I had so much energy and always stayed active. The only thing I wrestled with was cystic acne and digestive issues due to my intolerance to lactose. I thought these problems were difficult to manage, but it was not until halfway throughout college that I got a sense of what health complications really looked like; my life completely turned upside down.

It all started in the beginning of my sophomore year. The second semester something frightening happened to me. I started to experience unforeseen anxiety, developed rashes all over my chest and back, and had night sweats which caused me to wake up in damp pajamas in the middle of the night. I knew something in my body was not right. It was not until a lymph node the size of a golfball popped up above my collarbone (March 2017) that I started to become very concerned. I was very confused and immediately dismissed myself from the room, went to the lavatory, took a photo of myself in the mirror and sent it to my mother. She suggested I go to the medical center on campus.

After taking blood tests and receiving the reports back, I was told that nothing was wrong and I was told that my body was probably fighting off a virus. They had suggested I visit an ENT at home just to make sure I was okay. During my visit with this doctor, I went through a series of exams including: a nasoendoscopy, MRI, and fine-needle biopsy. The results: negative, negative, and negative. Even my internist said there was nothing wrong with me. I thought this was peculiar. I let my fears release themselves as I complied to the medical professionals.

Still, deep down I knew something was wrong. My parents agreed. I figured it would be a good idea to get further testing (August 2017) before going back to school and traveling abroad for a semester with my classmates. I went to another ENT and was told within seconds that the size was abnormally large and that the area it was in was concerning. He said I needed to go in for surgery, that I could not let it wait any longer. Although I was afraid to go under the knife, I knew that it was the best thing for my health. I scheduled a biopsy, and a week later my pathology report came back positive (September 2017). I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and had to start chemotherapy right away. I was 19, and was not ready for this battle. Needless to say, I persevered and survived.

If it was not for me to listen to my intuition and keep visiting doctors, I would have not come to this diagnosis. Who knows how long I would have gone without the answers I needed. The situation could have gotten worse and my prognosis could have been more serious. With that, I encourage you to also take your life into your own hands if you feel like something is wrong. Fight for your health because your life is worth living!

You can read my full story here.

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