I am a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor. It took me seven months to build up the courage to share my story, but if my story inspires even just one other patient like myself, I’d be more than grateful.
I was 21 and had just graduated a year early from Florida State University with my finance degree. I moved to Miami to start my dream career in commercial real estate investment finance. I was seemingly on top of the world before tragedy struck.
After noticing a small painless bump on my collar bone that never went away, I knew something was very wrong. I wasn’t familiar with the symptoms of lymphoma, but I wish I had been. I started losing weight without trying and experiencing daytime fatigue. Not long after my collar bone node biopsy, I received the call no 20-something ever should hear, “You have cancer”. I was without words. I was scared. I felt defeated. I felt isolated. I questioned and pondered the question: "why me?"
After several surgeries and many scans, I underwent about five long months of ABVD chemotherapy while working full-time with the gracious support of my family, friends, and colleagues. During this time, I experienced many of the hallmark side effects that patients on this chemo regimen experience: anxiety, lack of taste, fatigue, severe bone pains, morning nausea, headaches, and chest heaviness. I achieved a complete response to treatment. On December 5th, 2019, I rang that bell and decided right then and there my life was changed forever.
I could endlessly write about the things that cancer took from me, but I’d prefer to share the things that cancer gave me. It gave me courage. It gave me a relentless inner drive to pursue my life goals. And it gave me a new sense of life. I cherish the small moments life has to offer.
When I was bedridden and sick from the horrible side effects of chemo, I read and learned more about business and real estate finance. I utilized this down time to expand my mind and self reflect on what I wanted to achieve and the kind of impact I wanted to leave on others. I was not going to let cancer get in the way of the things I value and strive for.
I’m 22 now and have since purchased my first home for my family and friends to enjoy with me. I rescued a dog from the local pound who needed someone to love just like I did. And with each passing day the internal pains from treatment fade more and more. I want to give back and help others by participating in LLS events and fundraisers.
I strive to see the day that no woman, man, or child ever has to face a Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis, and that a cure is possible to achieve through supporting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It is now more important than ever to spread awareness and give thanks to the brave doctors and nurses that are on the front lines of cancer care amidst the pandemic.