A Proud Survivor

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When you hear the word ‘cancer,’ your world changes in an instant. I started getting sick in February of 2020 and my condition was getting worse each day.

I was 23 years old when I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It was October 2020 during the COVID pandemic. I was pursuing my final year in Engineering & was married for 3 months.

It all started with a very bad cough that lasted for 2 months straight. Upon seeking help for my condition, I found that I had a huge lump in my chest measuring 6.5 cm through a CT scan. It was later misdiagnosed as tuberculosis. After completing the course of my TB medication for 6 months, the lump in my chest got much bigger. While I was still taking TB medicine, I felt a lump in my neck as well. I then understood that something was wrong with my body. After all, only you know your body best, right?

After being misdiagnosed several times here in Nepal, I went to India. There, I was sent for a PET scan. The PET scan report showed a lump on my chest (7.5 cm after the delayed treatment), neck & abdomen. They surgically removed the lump that was on my neck to perform a biopsy & IHC, which later confirmed CHL (Nodular Sclerosis subtype). Tears rolled down my eyes immediately.

I dealt with a lot of side effects like skin rashes, bruising, compromised immune system, irregular periods, neuropathy, and my nails falling out. The most difficult side-effect for me to deal with was hair loss, including my eyebrows and eyelashes.

There’s no doubt cancer breaks you down physically, mentally, and emotionally, but it also makes you understand that we’ve been given one body that we must take care of. It makes you understand what life is.

Early detection is very important to take control of this disease. Listen to your body… it tells you things. It’s about knowing yourself. Once you know, you can fight it. Do not let fear, embarrassment, or shame prevent you from finding the help you need.

After 6 cycles of chemotherapy, I’m now in remission. I’m still dealing with some of the side effects, but I’m healthy. It was the moment when the diagnosis, treatment, the road behind, and the road ahead all converged. Somewhere from within, we find the strength that helps us to overcome our challenges. With the love and support of my family & friends, I was able to overcome mine. Cancer did not win, but I did.

To all the lovely people who are going through this tough time, keep your hopes high, have faith & keep fighting. We got this. 😊

By: Harshha Sharma