Hodgkin Lymphoma and Pandemic Conditions

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On New Year’s Eve 2021, after camping and hiking for several days with my partner, I was admitted to the hospital. After running different tests such as a chest x-ray and CT scan, the doctors found that I had both a pleural effusion and many pulmonary embolisms. In simpler terms, they found that there was fluid in my lungs and I had hundreds of blood clots in my chest 

I had a chest tube attached to my lungs to drain the liquid and was immediately put on drip blood thinners. It was at this point that the doctors discovered that I had nodules all over my lungs, which they tested via biopsy. They also biopsied my lymph nodes, and I was informed that I had Hodgkin Lymphoma. 

During my 15 day stay at the hospital, I was isolated due to the pandemic and was not allowed any visitors. I couldn’t believe that just 15 days after a hiking trip, I was diagnosed with cancer at twenty-seven years old. My partner and I enjoy hiking and camping in the California mountains and generally lead healthy lifestyles. Similar to others who get cancer diagnoses, I was shocked. 

I was extremely scared due to not being able to have my partner by my side at the hospital, as we went from spending 24/7 together while living in a downtown San Francisco studio apartment during the pandemic to only being able to communicate by Facetime. I found myself for the first time in my life, homesick. I have traveled to over 36 countries solo, spent countless weeks exploring the world, but it was a hospital stay, combined with the first news of a cancer diagnosis that left me homesick for the first time. 

I underwent 12 ABDV chemotherapy treatments. The side effects from chemotherapy that I experienced were fatigue, nausea, GI distress, bone pain, joint pain, and others. I also had to receive many rounds of white blood cell boosting shots, which left me in severe joint and bone pain. 

Fighting cancer during a pandemic was extraordinarily scary because I was terrified of getting Covid-19. I only left the house for doctor’s appointments and chemo sessions and had to rely on my partner for practically everything. We had to order in groceries and have no visitors over. I was not able to see any of my friends for a very long time, as this was before the vaccine was available.

In late July, I found out I was in remission from Hodgkins Lymphoma. My partner and I were so excited that this cancer journey was finally over. We celebrated by moving to our new home in Los Angeles, California. I wanted to leave my “cancer” life back in San Francisco. However, as many have noted before me, it is no easy feat to adjust to your new self while recovering from the chemo side effects after finding out you are in remission. I still get bouts of nausea, joint and bone pain, fatigue, and anxiety. Every day is a new adventure after surviving cancer, and while not all days are good, it’s reassuring to know that the worst is past you.

By Brittany Peck

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