It was the one thing I was most scared of in life - cancer. I think most people are. I think it's the word more than anything.
Anyway, I have it. Sorry to sound dramatic. I'm not meaning to. It is funny coming to terms with it... actually, more weird than funny.
I haven't had the denial stage or the freaking out (that much) stage. I've just been on auto pilot since finding out. Now I just want to get it treated. Don't get me wrong, I have cried buckets and my positivity goes in waves.
I'm hoping to float through the entire process. I think it may be my body's survival instinct. You never think you are brave enough. If someone had told me a month ago what I would be going through, even before Chemo had started... well I wouldn't have believed it. But you find the courage to do it.
I was diagnosed on 19th September 2011 and I hope by 19th September 2012 this will all be a bad dream.
I hadn't had any of the 'normal' symptoms - lumps, night sweats, fevers or weight loss. In fact, I had put weight on. I was as healthy as can be, except for being a bit of a lazy cow who loved a gin or two, the sofa and a good bar of chocolate.
I went to the doctors with breathing problems, but really it wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Some of my friends called me a hypochondriac for persisting. I went back to doctors four times before I was sent to the hospital for a chest X-ray.
The X-ray showed abnormalities. I was sent for a further CT scan which also showed abnormalities. Still, the doctors thought it was nothing to worry about but as a precaution I was sent for a biopsy. I felt like a bit of fraud going for one thinking it will just a bit of fluid on the lungs or something minor. Then the results...
I went to the hospital on my own as didn't expect to be told I had Hodgkins Lymphoma. All the way along, it hadn't really been an option; the docs didn't think I could have it as there were no real symptoms. When the consultant broke the news, I really don't know what I thought. I replay it back in my head and they are just words. To be honest, all I wanted to do was get out of that room and cry and call my family, which I did.
I was in and out of the doctor's surgery less than 10 minutes. I think the doctor thought I wasn't listening as he wrote it all down for me and told me to come back in a few days later, after the news had sunk in. To be honest, I was numb and didn't really want to know any more right then.
He told me I would need to take three months off work as he thought, judging by current test results, it was stage 2A. As a self-confessed workaholic, three months off work seemed an impossible idea.
And that was the first time I cried - when being told I had to be off work. I have now settled into it. I don't have a choice.
Since going back, I have had more tests and been re-diagnosed as stage 4A. After getting my head around the prospect of three months of Chemotherapy, being hit with a worse diagnosis and longer treatment time didn't go down too well. At that point, I had a bit of a mental breakdown, but it only lasted about 24 hours.
The bigger issue of being stage 4A is the reduced risk of infertility, which has hit me really hard. What if I can't have children? Around 20 per cent of women going through Chemo Stage 4 will never be able to have children after treatment. I've been to see the fertility team and am having ANOTHER FUCKING INJECTION to help preserve anything I have. You can take six weeks out and create embryos but I simply don't have time and there is no guarantee that would work either.
Because of the new diagnosis, my treatment plan will require six months of Chemotherapy. To give you the facts (scan over this section if it is boring), I am due to undertake two months OEPA followed by COPP - both forms of Chemotherapy. Starting on Monday 10th October, I will have a full week of intravenous Chemo - luckily I had a line put into my arm, which means I can receive treatment and give blood tests without having to have any further injections. YAY! The downside, though, is a permanent (eek) line in my arm. Again, weird how you just get used to it.
After the first week of intensive treatment, I have to go back in once a week. Chemo affects everyone differently but I imagine it will tire me out. I'll sleep, feel a bit shit - maybe a lot shit - and be a bit sickly.
Naturally am already using it to my advantage at home and have the boyfriend doing the washing up, tidying and household chores by putting on my best 'sad, poor me' face/voice.
Everyone says a positive mental attitude is the way through it and some days I have it... some days I want to punch people in the face who tell me to stay positive.
I have such a mix of emotion - mainly anger and fear. What if the treatment doesn't work? It is meant to be 83 per cent 'curable' but after all the tests I am going through, I'm then at risk of other cancers so if I get over this one, another one could be lurking but I can't look at it like that. Right now I just need to focus on getting better and through the horrific treatment that's ahead.
I have never really had the 'why me?' I guess I am just a realist and these shitty things happen and you have to deal with them.