Welcome Erica!

Lacuna Loft is excited to continue introducing more young adult voices! These great folks represent a variety of perspectives on the myriad of topics covered here at Lacuna Loft. Before everyone starts really getting into the nitty-gritty of all they have to say, we wanted to introduce them a bit. Without further ado, here is Erica!

Erica Lee is a Hodgkins Lypmohma survivor, diagnosed at 21 just after her college graduation. During her six months of chemotherapy, she found a pen pal across the country with the same diagnosis, and they helped each other through treatment. She currently lives in Georgia with her dear boyfriend and their pets, and she is beginning her master’s program in professional counseling. She intends to advocate for the mental health and continued medical support of young adults with cancer and cancer survivors.

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.

Welcome Jei!

Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Lacuna Loft is excited to continue introducing more young adult voices! These great folks represent a variety of perspectives on the myriad of topics covered here at Lacuna Loft. Before everyone starts really getting into the nitty-gritty of all they have to say, we wanted to introduce them a bit. Without further ado, here is Jei!

Hi! My name is Jeanette, but you can call me Jei. I was diagnosed with Classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in late 2014, the “easy” cancer. Boy, am I tired of hearing that! I received ABVD as treatment, 6 cycles were scheduled but by my 4th I’d had a clean scan, that was followed by 17 rounds of radiation. Still, the chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma has left me with lasting side effects, like neuropathy, weak lungs and chemo brain. I’ve been through a lot, from the initial misdiagnosis to the loss of a pregnancy at 12 weeks. I am an Army wife of 12 years (yikes), and a mom to two lovely and adoring children, 3 dogs and a dramatic kitten (as if there is any other kind). I work full time in Visual Merchandising and enjoy writing on my down time, in my little quiet space at home.

My home is where the Army sends us, right now, were getting a taste of southern hospitality and you know? I kind of like it. My ability to not only adapt, but thrive makes me a survivor. Cancer, is just another hurdle.

I hope that by sharing my story I can bring awareness, not only in regards to cancer but over-all health, as well as medical care. I struggled to be diagnosed, then again during diagnosis to be heard and now that I’m a “survivor”, I am faced daily with people who expect me to return to my old self. I’ve had to be my own “patient’s advocate” when others wouldn’t advocate for me, and yes, at times I too have failed myself. Stick around, I have a lot to tell.

“I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.”

-Maya Angelou

Welcome Christabel!

Lacuna Loft is excited to continue introducing more young adult voices! These great folks represent a variety of perspectives on the myriad of topics covered here at Lacuna Loft. Before everyone starts really getting into the nitty-gritty of all they have to say, we wanted to introduce them a bit. Without further ado, here is Christabel!

Prompted by her experiences as a two-time cancer survivor – diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008 and 2011 – Christabel is a tireless advocate and doctoral student researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she is dedicated to improving psychosocial care for young cancer patients and survivors, with emphasis on those who are socially and culturally isolated. Prior to UCLA, Christabel was a community activist on issues of social justice, having last served as lecturer/field consultant at UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare, and previous to that, serving as executive director of San Francisco Village, a nonprofit agency within the national village movement for aging in place. She holds a master of social welfare from UC Berkeley, and a bachelor of journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She and her service dog, Malcolm, blog about adventures after young adult cancer at www.jadegangster.com.