Hodgkin's Disease Videos - Greg P

2X Hodgkin's Disease Survivor, 1X Head and Neck Cancer

Watch as Greg P takes us through his journey with hodgkin's disease.

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Video Transcription

Hodgkins Disease Pt 1

Hello. My name's Greg Pierce. I'm a three-time cancer survivor, twice with Hodgkin disease, once with head and neck cancer. My journey with cancer started 24 years ago at the age of 28 after being married for just a short 8 years. In the business that I was in, I had to speak a lot and at one point I developed an allergy problem. I go to the doctor to see what the problem is, why I was having these- runny nose a lot, drainage in my throat, and had lost my voice; I couldn't speak. So at this doctor's visit the doctor's giving me an examination and he finds a lump in my neck- side of my neck. He tells me there is a golf ball-sized lump in the neck and he wants to know how long it's been there. Well, I had no idea that it was even there. In addition to that one, there were two more smaller ones underneath of it that I had no idea that they were there so we started off with a runny nose with allergies and then the next thing you know you have Hodgkin disease is what I was told I had. So that doctor, regular family doctor, refers me to an ENT.

First procedure we do is a needle biopsy to confirm that this is actually a cancerous condition. It did turn out to be Hodgkin disease. That doctor referred me to the Methodist group down in Memphis, Tennessee, for my oncology surgeries that were to be done. Several procedures started happening right away. One of the very first things that they done was took out the lymph nodes that are in the side of my neck again to biopsy and be sure what we were dealing with. After those were taken out, the next procedure done was a exploratory surgery. They opened up my abdomen, biopsied my spleen, biopsied my liver, done several things, took out lymph nodes on the inside, and once that was done-- That was an extremely painful surgery to recover from. Once that was over with, then we started with treatments.

I was given radiation treatment and chemotherapy during this first round with Hodgkin disease. Chemotherapy for me was very hard. There was about six months' worth of chemotherapy treatments. Every time I had a treatment I would get sick, go home. I would be sick- ill for four hours and then I would go to sleep. I'd sleep for maybe a day and a half. Sometimes I'd get up in the middle of the night, continuing to get sick. Twenty-four years ago there wasn't the anti-nausea treatments that there are now so things have changed. These days there's a whole lot better drugs available to combat the nausea. At that time it was extremely hard. That was one of the hardest things of this journey with- dealing with all this was-- The chemotherapy itself wasn't too bad; it's just all the side effects from it.

So chemotherapy once that was completed my next treatment in this course was to have radiation treatment. I was given radiation; 25 treatments I was given. The radiation treatment: People ask all the time how bad is that; is it as bad as chemotherapy. For me radiation treatment is nothing like chemotherapy. I've told people before I would take two to one radiation over chemotherapy. It didn't have the side effects, didn't make me as ill, so that treated me a whole lot better. Some other things that were happening during this treatment with the chemotherapy: A couple of times the chemotherapy would knock my white blood count down. I would wind up having to spend days in the hospital just taking antibiotics, getting my blood system built back up, and have to slow down with the chemotherapy, have to stop the treatments, so that took me- what was only supposed to take just a few months drug that out to several months longer than what it should have been. After six, eight months, somewhere in that line, after all the radiation was done, the chemotherapy was done, the doctors tell me, "Okay. We think you're good to go" so after this long treatment, radiation, chemotherapy, I was told, "Good" and that concluded the first round with Hodgkin disease.

Hodgkins Disease Pt 2

After my first round with Hodgkin disease, the doctors had told me I was good, clean, but they wanted to follow me. I needed to come back to the doctor once a month for just regular checkups, do blood work, be sure that everything was still okay. At one of these visits back maybe four or five months after I'd been told that I was clean, the doctor presses on my neck and I feel a sharp, burning sensation and it was another lymph node that was swollen up so Hodgkin disease was back for the second time. This time the doctor says that when Hodgkin's returns it's more difficult to control so this time they were going to try a different regimen of chemotherapy drugs, something that was rather new that hadn't been used too much before, a new round of treatment that had been developed through research, a lot of the research that is funded by the American Cancer Society. One of the great things about having research hospitals around is that they come up with new drugs that help people like me get through cancer instead of losing to it. So this time around they used a new regimen on me and it was a little bit longer with chemotherapy, supposed to be a longer term than the first time was. This time we had to put in a Port-A-Cath. The treatment before just being put into the veins just through IVs had destroyed my veins. The chemo drugs made them shrink, made them hard, so they couldn't get needles in my veins anymore so they put in a Port-A-Cath to help administer the drugs. These are great little tools to help people that are getting chemo done to get it done a whole lot less painless and so that was a good treatment to be done. After six to eight months more of chemotherapy and a couple of more visits to the hospital with white blood cells dropping, white blood count getting low, for the second time then they tell me that I'm good to go, cancer free again after another round with treatment. So Hodgkin's the second time around no radiation this time, just a lot of chemotherapy and a few stays in the hospital to battle the white blood count and we were done with this time.