My name is Joe. I am 15 years old, and I live in Arizona. In October, 2013, I was officially diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Before I was diagnosed, I felt fine and the only reason I was being checked out was that I had a slight bump on my neck by my shoulder that would not go away. I had many tests over the next few months.
One day, I was getting ready to play in a football game for my school. Right after we had our team meal, my dad called me and told me we needed to go to the hospital. I really did not know what was happening. The hospital staff kept drawing blood for testing, and I also had X-Rays and CT Scans. After about six hours, we were able to go home.
I found out later that the doctors told my parents that night about my diagnosis, but they decided not to tell me until the next day. Once you are diagnosed with cancer, everything seems to happen fast, but at the same time, it seems to take forever. When I got the test results of the PET Scan (to determine how much and where the cancer was located in my body), the Oncologist (cancer doctor) tried to explain to my parents and me what I was about to go through. I tried to listen and understand, but it really just sounded like a bunch of noise.
I was still processing the reality of the situation when I had to decide how I would receive my treatment (chemotherapy) over the next several months. My choice was either a Port or a PICC line. I wanted to get a Port because a PICC line hangs off your body and I didn’t want to deal with that. So I had surgery to place the Port in my body.
I was really in denial for a while of the fact that I had cancer. In order to cope with it, I would just joke about having it. I wanted to show my family, my friends and my teammates that I was strong and could get through it.
Each round of chemotherapy is over a three-week period. Three days the first week: an eight hour day, a three hour day, a one hour day. The second week was one day for about two hours. The third week was an off week. In addition to the intravenous chemotherapy, I was taking many pills and shots each day. All I ever felt was tired and sick to my stomach.
Over the next three months, I was going through countless nights of being rushed to the hospital; going through rounds of chemo and taking pills and shots. Finally, my Oncologist told me that my last round of Chemo was the following week. I could not have had better news! All of my hair all over my body was gone. I was weak. And, I had to stay home most of the time because my blood levels were too low to go out. I just wanted it to be over.
On January 9, 2014, I had my final PET scan. The next day, I received the results that the cancer was gone. My entire family was overjoyed! I even got January 10th as my new birthday! But that wasn’t the end of the road though. I had to have radiation for three weeks as a final treatment and was official finished in February. It was a long and hard battle, but I pulled through and tried to stay calm through it.
If you are diagnosed with cancer, just know there is hope. I know sometimes it is difficult to even talk to your family or friends about how you feel or what you are going through because they really don’t understand. However, in the end, don’t give up when things get tough, because it will all be over soon.