This week is Lymphatic Cancer Awareness Week. Did you know that more than 14,000 new cases of lymphoma are diagnosed each year in the UK, making it the most common cancer in the under 30s and the 5th most common cancer diagnosed overall. Despite this, awareness of lymphoma is relatively low and many people have not heard of it unless they have been affected in some way.
I’ve always been open about the fact I had Hodgkin’s, I’ve never tried to hide it. I think people don’t always realise that Lymphoma is cancer, and I think it’s important to raise awareness.
I will never forget the day that I got taken into a room, with a young female doctor, and told “You have Hodgkin’s Lymphoma”. Obviously, I knew what it was. I’d been telling the doctors for 6 months that I thought I’d got it. But hearing those words and it becoming real, your world just shatters. Yes, it’s one of the most curable cancers, but it doesn’t have a 100% cure rate. There was still a chance I could die.
I guess I am one of the “lucky” ones. I’m four years out of treatment now, and the chances of it coming back are slim. Slim, but not nil. Once you have been diagnosed, it never goes away. I’ve got physical and mental scars. It was a scary time, it was awful. Being used as a pincushion when they couldn’t find a vein for cannulas, losing my hair, knowing that the chemo was going to make me feel like s**t, but having to endure it anyway, whilst looking after an 8 month old, having to ask for help to look after him on days I knew I just wouldn’t be well enough to, spending a week in hospital with pneumonia, including a stint in intensive care.
Just because people aren’t aware doesn’t make it any less real.
The Lymphoma Association have lots of information and support available, so go and read up on it, but I am also aiming to write a couple of posts this week to tell you the signs and symptoms to look out for.