Lee

Lee

Diagnosis

I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Burkitt Lymphoma in August 2012. I was 24 years old, had just finished grad-school, gotten engaged, and moved to Atlanta, excited to begin the next chapter of my life. I was mildly concerned about what I thought was an enlarged lymph node that had not returned to its normal size after a couple of weeks, so I went to the doctor. About a week later after a series of tests and scans, I was told by an ENT surgeon as I sat in his office that he was 90 percent sure what he saw on my scans was Lymphoma. I was scared of the unknown, of course, but I also felt a strong sense of determination and focus. I¹m not sure the reality and seriousness of it all really set in during the first few weeks.

Treatment

Because of how aggressive the type of cancer I had is, I began a 6 month chemo regimen only a few days after my official diagnosis was made. Toward the end of treatment when my body became weaker and less capable of rebounding from each round of chemo, I had several infections and setbacks that tremendously affected my mobility. Therefore, even after treatment was finished, I still had a lot of work to do before I could walk normally and begin to feel like myself again. In addition, about 6 months after I finished treatments, I had several tests run that indicated the effects of chemo would prevent my husband and me from having children, which was devastating news after such an emotional and exhausting year. On a positive note- only a few months later I learned that we were expecting our first child.

My support system throughout this time included my parents, who lived in Mississippi and would rotate back and forth each week so that one of them was always with me, and my fiancé who is now my husband. The level of care that I received at Northside was exceptional. The doctors and nursing staff went above and beyond their duties to ensure that I understood and was comfortable with the various procedures and treatments that I underwent. At one point, I even had a nurse that went home and researched the answer to a question that I had asked the previous day and came back with pages of information that she found so she could help provide me with a greater understanding of what was happening in my body. As much as I dread follow-up appointments, I truly look forward to going back so that I can see the doctors and nurses that were some of my closest friends during the hardest time in my life.

Recovery

August marks 3 years since my diagnosis and I am feeling great. My last PET scan was a couple of months ago and I got a great report.

Future

If there were a cure or additional advancements in treatment for Leukemia, it would be a huge relief to know that I didn¹t have to worry about relapsing. Also as a parent, knowing that my child would never have to experience what I did would be a huge burden lifted.

Now that I¹ve regained most of the mobility and balance I had before treatment, I enjoy playing tennis and going for walks with my family. I also love trying new restaurants. My little boy is now 10 months old and he keeps us busy and makes life fun. To anyone who has just received a diagnosis - stay focused and determined. Know that life after treatment is worth all that you endure to get to the other side.

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