It was nothing. I was overreacting, being paranoid, and doing a little too much Google self-diagnosing. But what if? No, it could never happen to me. Plus, I’m so young and have always been healthy. Yeah, I’m definitely overreacting.
I don’t even know how I found it, but in November 2016, I felt a lump just above my left collarbone that would change my life as I knew it.
I didn’t know what to think of it at first, but I didn’t make a big deal about it. Fast forward a month- the lump was still there. At this point, I was a little concerned and I did the only thing I could think of… I went to Google for answers. I knew I shouldn’t have. I mean, you can talk yourself into having ANY disease on the internet. Still, after reading the symptoms and believing that I fit them perfectly, I cried. I called my older sister and told her what was going on, then I cried some more. I got in to see a doctor as soon as I could. The doctor asked me about my symptoms and did a quick ultrasound. He didn’t seem worried at all and just chalked it up to be a swollen lymph node due to a cold. I felt a little silly leaving the office because he made me feel like I was over reacting to a simple cold.
That Google search really stuck with me for the next few months. I could just tell something wasn’t right, but I kept making excuses for the things that felt “off” to me. For example, I’ve never been the type of person to get sick a lot, but after finding that lump, I felt myself feeling almost constantly ill. I would finally get over one illness and a week later, be back to feeling bad again. I also felt so tired all the time, but I blamed it on my schedule. I wake up at 2:30 AM for work everyday, but the tiredness I was feeling was more than just not getting enough sleep. It was an extreme fatigue. It was hard to get out of my apartment on some days. Then there were nights I found myself having really bad night sweats which, apparently, is a big indicator of lymphoma. Even then, I would blame it on my apartment just being a little too hot that night. I wish I had listened to my body a little more closely.
Back to my story, let’s fast forward two more months- I found another lump near my right collarbone. I happened to be at work when I found it and was seconds away from appearing on TV to do my next weather report. I started panicking and I felt my eyes swell up with tears. I took a few deep breaths and choked back the tears as best as I could while my floor director started counting down from our commercial break. 10…9…8… How am I going to make it through the next 90 seconds? Nobody wants to watch a meteorologist on TV that isn’t happy and cheerful. Adrenaline started kicking in and I forced a smile 3…2…1… CUE. Nobody watching my show knew the internal battle I was having at that exact moment. That’s one of the hardest parts about my job. No matter what is going on in my personal life, I need to separate it from work. Somehow I managed to get through the last hour of our newscast with a smile on my face.
This new lump was different. I was really scared and finally decided to get back in to see another doctor. Since then, I’ve been stabbed with needles more times than I can count, I’ve had ultrasounds, an MRI, CT scan, PET scan, needle biopsy, and an excisional biopsy. I’ve been in a doctors’ offices more times in the past two months than I have in the past 5 years of my life. It was a lot of waiting and that was the hardest part.
Finally, on May 5, I got some answers. They weren’t the answers I wanted, but at least I finally knew what I was dealing with. I was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
I decided to share my experience on live TV and you can watch the clip below. This was the hardest day of my career so far, but I’m hoping my story may help someone out there. Please always remember to listen to your body! I can’t say it enough- if you feel like something may be wrong, it probably is.
I don’t know what the road ahead will be like or even where I’ll be in a month. What I do know is I’ll get through this and I’ll be stronger than ever. I’m using this as my place to stay connected, share updates, and mostly, just as a therapeutic way to get things off my chest. I hope you’ll follow along on my journey with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.