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    Celebration (Finished treatment): I finally finished my 6 month treatment round. The PET scan and several CAT scans all showed that my lymphnodes were in the normal range for size. I was initially diagnosed at stage 1a, so it didn't take long for the cancer to go away. But still, I was so pleased to be done with the chemo. The port was removed, the hair was coming in, and I appeared to be in remission. Many say with Hodgkin's Disease, that it is actually cured, so the word remission may not count for this cancer. I was pleased with being done with all the weekly appointments, etc, and felt so blessed that I was cured. But part of me will always feel at risk as now, I was exposed to this world of cancer, and my serenity in life was forever interrupted. I can no longer go back to feeling like I was 'safe' or spared from the big C. It happened to me. My vulnerabilities are exposed. I am human and I can get sick, and I can die. That was my celebration. I am appreciative and grateful and so happy it has been 6 years now. But I have been awakened to the world of sickness, medicine, doctors, tests, outcomes, and survivalhood. My life will never be the same.

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    Side Effects (Allergic reaction): I started with my chemo treatments in June and continued through Novemeber. It all seemed to be going well, until October. I thought I was fighting a cold or the flu. I tried for about 3 weeks to improve, but my chest congestion, coughing, and general deconditioning continued. I was so extremely fatigued, that I had to plan in advance a trip to the restroom. I couldn't just hop out of bed or even change positions for that matter. My coughing was so strenuous and energy draining. I began to cough so hard that I had to wear depends as I had no bladder control left. The night before my next oncology appt, my fever was up to 104.9. As hard as it was, I went to the oncologists the next morning and they directly admitted me to the hospital. I was told I had an allergic reaction to the bleomyicin, one of the chemo meds. It attackes the lungs. On top of that, I developed pneumonia as I was so bedridden and not able to move much. I was in the hospital with an oxygen mask on, 10 liters pumping through it, hoping to find any comfort in breathing at all. I had panick attacks when I felt I could not breathe. I would try to take the mask off, rip off my gown, anything to try to breathe! As the antibiotics and respiratory treatments went along, so did my breathing become easier. After 11 days I was able to return home and return to treatment, minus the bleomyicin.

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    Drug or Chemo Therapy (Chemotherapy): I began a 6 month, every other Friday, regimine of chemotherapy. I did not receive radiation treatments as the doctors felt that the enlarged lymphnode was too close to my 'female parts' and that posed a risk. So, the chemo that was originally scheduled for a 3 month treatment turned into 6 months. The chemo clinic was in the same office as my oncologists, so it wasn't too unfamiliar. The nurses were fantastic and the area was comfortable. It became routine after awhile, what to do, where to sit, what to watch on TV at that time. It took about 2 hours plus or minus some time depending on the cooperation of my port. Many times, my port was blocked and several nurses needed to give it a try. At one point, I had to go to a cath lab to see if it was blocked, and it wasn't. Just stubborn.

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    Procedure or Surgery (Lypmphnodemctomy, Port Placement): They removed the lymphnode in question. The incision site was painful for about a week. It then healed and was not noticable. The port was placed on my left side, just below my shoulder area in front. This procedure was minimal and didn't really bother me too much. It was so strange though to have a plastic tube hanging out from my body for 6 months.

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    Oh No (Diagnosed): I had first noticed what I thought to be an enlarged groin lymphnode. I actually watched it for several months. It seemed to be getting larger and harder. I finally decided to make an appt. with my doctor to have it checked out. The doctor's ARNP felt the site and felt that it was nothing to worry about. She stated that the groin lymphnodes are typically larger than most. I felt uneasy about her explanation and asked, okay I begged, for a surgical consult. She said I really didn't need one but she could try to justify it on paper. So, within a week, I was in with a surgeon. He again, examined the site. Again, no need to worry he tells me. Yes, it was larger, but not really abnormally larger. I wasn't convinced as I just had a feeling that there was more to the story. I again, begged, for a biopsy. He couldn't really see why I would want want one, but did say okay. The following week, I was in day surgery. He came in and was checking the wrong side of my groin for the enlargement. I quickly told him it was the other leg and showed him where, again. He marked it and then I went off to have it removed. After the procedure, I was told to wait for the pathology reports, which was over a weekend. I tried to not worry, but I was. The day came for my consult with the surgeon. I had so much anxiety that I could barely breathe and sit still. He walked in the room and said, "Well, I was quite surprised with the pathology reports. It appears you have what is known as Hodgkin's Lymphoma". He said the lymphnode was larger than he expected once in the surgical site. My mind was realing. I thought, wait, did he just say lymphoma? I asked him, "is that cancer?". He said yes. My world was spinning. I became hot and panicky. It was all so surreal. Cancer? Me? Cancer? What? Wait, not me! I wanted to burst into tears, but he was talking about making appointments with so and so at this time, etc. But my whole world was turned upside down and I knew at that very moment, that my life would never be the same, no matter the outcome....never the same.

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