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Finding Courage, Facing Cancer

facing cancer

My story with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma begins “officially” on the morning of October 25th 2014, when I began to feel the familiar stabbing pain in my chest. The pain that would drain me of all my energy and knock every breath out of me. One of my many symptoms, unbeknownst to me. Each pulsating shot more debilitating than the last, left me weakened. This morning, when I attempted to lift my head of my pillow and failed, was my turning point. It was after 7am and I could already hear shuffling just outside my bedroom door. I reached out my arm for my phone, tucked beneath my pillow, I’ve read in articles it could kill you, should the phone overheat and start a fire. But then, I’d come to find out, I had much more to fear.

In my phone, I find my husbands number on the recent calls list and hit send. He’s a Drill Sergeant in the U.S. Army and has been working a 24 hour shift, poor guy, he must be exhausted. I hardly hear a breath and I’m already speaking and he’s listening, “I can’t take this anymore, can you meet us at the hospital?” He’s concerned and tired, I can hear it in his voice, “Wait for me sweetheart, I’ll pick you up and take you.” I don’t wait. I text him as I’m leaving,  I’ve mustered up all my strength to get out of bed and round up the kids, 5 and 9, a feat in-and-of itself. To this day, I have no recollection of the drive there.

My memory picks up in the ER, I’ve already been seen and I’ve had both an EKG and X-Rays done. My husband and two kids sit beside me, the kids are sitting quietly on the floor, keeping themselves busy on their daddy’s phone. Just then, a pulmonary specialist walks in, I recognize him almost instantly. I saw him for the first time 6 months ago, here, at this very hospital. At the time he told me I had inflammation in the lining of my lungs and had mentioned an anomaly in my X-Rays, his voice echoes in my memory. “Speak to your primary physician” he had said. Today, he seemed disappointed. “I told you to see your doctor.” I had, I did. I cried to her in panic, begged her to do something, she insisted it was my anxiety. “I’ll double your dose.” Angry, I demanded she take X-Rays of her own, or request the hospitals. She was reluctant but agreed, that same day I had more images taken, I didn’t hear from her again. Even after I phoned her and left messages. Nothing.

“There is a mass, roughly 9 by 11cm attached to your right lung” he formed a circle with his hands, fingertips touching, “about this size, like a grapefruit.” A mass? Like, a tumor? “We’ll conduct a “Fine Needle Biopsy” to determine what exactly it is.” He continued.

My next memory is going under and waking up. Now, a couple hours have passed and another physician enters the small room. An oncologist, who was to become, my oncologist. “The FNB was too small a sample but we’re fairly certain it is indeed ‘Hodgkin’s Lymphoma’ we just aren’t certain of the type.”

This can’t be happening.

From the corner of the room I see my husband look up from his phone, his eyes glazed over, he’s trying hard not to cry. “Hodgkin’s Lymphoma? Cancer?” He says inquisitively.

“Yes.” She responds, it is here that my journey begins.