My journey began several years ago, I just didn't know it. For the last several years I have been suffering from extreme fatigue that only seemed to get worse. Some days I felt like an old woman. I wasn't able to get normal things done and required extra recovery time if I did push myself. As most people do, I discussed the issue with my PCP. My PCP at the time suggested a diet change and more exercise. I adopted a dog to help me get out and get moving, but my fatigue never lessened. I started having pain in my legs and having issues with multiple flights of stairs. I also discussed the issue with my psychiatrist. They tried several drugs including a narcolepsy drug - still no results.
I chose to switch PCPs as I did not feel my current doctor was invested in solving my issue. They ran 7 pages of labs to try and get to the bottom of the issue. Only two lab values were off - thyroid & testosterone. I was started on thyroid medication, unfotunately, that did not help. I wasn't overly enthusiastic to consider hormone therpay. We discussed possible undiagnosed mental health issues and even tried Adderal - again nothing. In the meantime, COVID came around and I started having a persistant cough with position change. I have luckily never tested positive for COVID and figured it was some new allergy.
I chose to reach out to a concierge MD who specialized in testosterone replacement therapy. They requested several things of me - an elimination diet (no gluten, sugar, or dairy), B complex shots, getting off birth control. I was able to comply with the requests, but noticed I was loosing significant weight. Up to this point I passed off my symptoms as benign and related to something else all together.
About 2 weeks before my hospital admission, I noticed a lump just above my colar bone. I work as a social work in a hospital and was able to have one of the hospitalist palpitate the lump. They were unsure if it was a swollen lymph or a cyst and suggested I get an ultrasound. I got set up to have an outpatient ultrasound on March 2, 2021.
On Feb 27th, 2021, I had been working on a kitchen remodel in my home and I noticed when I was going to bed that my left arm was swollen compaired to my right. I sent photos of my neck lump and arm swelling to a physician friend to make sure it wasn't too serious. My friend suggested that I go to the ER in the AM for a more thorough workup as the swelling could be a DVT. I went to the hospital I work at as that was the most comfortable for me. I spent the entire day in the ER getting ultrasounds, blood work, and CT scans. I did not have a DVT, luckily. All my lab work and vitals looked like a healthy person, but the CT scan did show a large mass in my chest just under my breastplate.
I was admitted to the hospital that evening to continue a cancer work up. Turns out all my begnin symptoms over the past several years were actually cancer growing in my body. My symptoms started to progress while in the hospital. My neck began to swell and I was having trouble swallowing. I went for more tests and finally a PET scan. My parents came from FL to be supportive and some close friends were careing for my animals during my hospitalization. I had awesome support from my colleagues at work while I was there which kept my spirits high.
I had to be transfered from the hospital I work at to another in the system as they had the appropriate oncology team to treat my disease. The PET scan revealed I have stage 3b Hodgkin's lymphoma. I started treatment in the hosptail and was released almost 2 weeks after initially coming in. I returned home with the help of my father who is currently on FMLA. My mother will trade places with him once his FMLA runs out at the end of May.
I am extremely grateful to my family, friends, and co-workers for the continued support during this journey. I am nearly half way through my chemo treatment and have run out of any PTO or extended sick leave. I have at least 4 more months before I can return to work and don't have an income. My parents are able to help with some things, but are not able to cover all my bills. I have applied for unemployment and am exploring other options to ensure I don't loose my home. It is very difficult to ask for monetry support, but at this time I few other options. I chose this fundraising platform, because it is tax deductible for any donation.