It all began with an email. A fourteen-year-old Hodgkin’s survivor contacted me to share her story. I was so moved by her mature, positive outlook I asked if she would be willing to be interviewed for my blog (with her mother’s permission, of course). Here is…
My name is Anna and I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 14. Before cancer, I had a wonderful life. I was a 4.0 student, a cheerleader, and a great friend to many of my classmates.
One autumn day, I went to the doctor to get a growth on my neck examined. It had been there for a while, but only recently to the day had lymph nodes began to appear. My doctor seemed to think it was fine, but he referred me to a pediatric doctor, just to be safe. In December of 2010, I had a biopsy done. When the test results came back, it was not good news. I had cancer.
After many days overcome with emotion, we went to the doctor to have tests done and to discuss treatment options. I chose a longer treatment, which, in return, was less intense and didn’t involve radiation. My treatment schedule was fairly laid back; I had one half of my treatment one week and the other half the next week (and lots of pills for 2 weeks, then I was “off” for 2 weeks). I did this for 6 months.
After all of my treatments were over, I received great news– my cancer was gone. I was free of cancer and it’s wrath. I won my battle!
I did lose my hair, but it’s nearly an inch long and it’s thickening. I am grateful for my family, my friends, my support, for everyone’s prayers, and for God, most of all, for helping me get through a very difficult time in my young life. I finished out my 8th grade year a 4.0 student and kept my nearest and dearest friends. I couldn’t be happier to start fresh in high school. God has blessed my heart, and I’m forever grateful.
You mentioned that you were doing really well in school, cheerleading and other areas when you were diagnosed. How did your diagnosis change this for you?
Truthfully, I kept up my grades with little problem at all. I was lucky to have such cooperative and understanding teachers while dealing with something as serious as cancer. As for cheer, I kept practicing for high school try-outs. Though I didn’t make it, I was no worse for wear!
What, if any, were a few of the challenges you faced while going through treatment for Hodgkins?
At first, it was a breeze. Until I got to about my 3rd or 4th treatment, I was great (so to speak). After a while, I noticed that the flush they used in my port tasted weird. Bad, actually. So, once in awhile, I gagged (or even threw up) when I tasted it. Also, my prednisone dose gave me leg cramps sometimes, which were pretty painful. But that’s about it!
What were some of the things people said or did that helped you?
One of the best things to hear (for me) is when someone tells me they are praying for me or thinking of me. Also, I appreciated when people treated me normally, as if I wasn’t going through treatments. It made me feel good about myself.
Sometimes people don’t know what to say, do or how to help when they find out you’re dealing with cancer. What, if any, were one or two things (if there were any) that maybe weren’t as helpful (things that drained you)?
There was only one thing that really stood out to me as “unhelpful.” This would be people who avoided me so they wouldn’t have to talk about me and my cancer. I wish I could have just told them that I don’t want to talk about it either, so they didn’t need to steer clear of me!
Click here for Part 2 of Anna’s Interview and read about this inspiring young woman’s insights into hair loss, friendship and the power of connecting to others.
To protect Anna’s identity, the photos in this series are licensed generic images and are not photos of Anna or her community of family & friends.