Nicola, Hodgkin's lymphoma
When were you diagnosed and what with?
I was diagnosed properly in January 2016 when I was 28 years old, although it took a number of months to obtain the diagnosis. I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
How did you find out you had cancer?
I had a cough that wouldn’t go away for months and months. I went to see my GP many times and at first they thought I had stomach acid or asthma. Eventually I was sent for a chest X-Ray where they discovered a mass in my chest.
What did you think and feel when you were diagnosed?
I was really shocked. I felt really scared and worried and sometimes couldn’t help but think the worst. Not long after that though I found some sort of positivity that just told me I was going to be fine and I would get better.
How did the people around you react?
My family were really sad, as was my husband. But everyone kept as strong as they could to help support each other. Keeping positive was hugely helpful for me and all my friends and family. I could not have done it without them.
What treatment did you have?
I had ABVD chemotherapy for 4 cycles and then radiotherapy. I also had a PICC line put in to assist with the chemotherapy.
How did you feel through treatment?
After a few sessions of chemo I felt quite ill. I am a big fan of food but I went off all the things I normally really enjoy! I also felt quite sick and tried a few different types of anti-sickness tablets. They really made a difference.
What happened after treatment finished?
It took me some time to start to feel myself again as I was quite tired and worn out. I tried to keep as busy as I could and had lots of visitors and days out. I just wanted to be as normal as possible again. My consultant confirmed that I was in remission in August 2016 and I’ve been celebrating since!
How did you get involved with Shine?
I found the facebook group because I felt very different to everyone else at the chemotherapy unit. Everyone was much, much older than me and it seemed like they felt awkward talking to me because I was so young. I started Googling for support groups and found Shine.
What difference has Shine made to you?
Shine really help because it means I’m able to talk to people in very similar situations to me, who really understand. It was exactly what I needed. Other people could try but it wasn’t the same. It has been an incredible support to me and still is now. I have made great friends through Shine.
How do you feel now about your experiences? What‘s been the biggest change you’ve faced?
I feel very grateful for everything. I do feel like a different person. I am more outgoing and try my best not to take things for granted. I am also trying to be much healthier and take care of myself. It’s important.
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself before your what would it be?
Perhaps to not blame myself for getting cancer. For ages I thought about all the reasons why I got ill and things I might have done to mean I ended up with cancer. But really, that doesn’t matter. Have a positive attitude and it makes so much difference.