Living with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Amanda - Halloween 2005In July 2005, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Primary Mediastinal Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, Stage IIA. The above picture was taken in October 2005. I had lost all my hair to my chemotherapy treatments, so I decided to be a pumpkin for Halloween – complete with a stem glued to my head. I was a hit!

Symptoms: Recurrent strep throat and bronchitis, persistent cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, itchy skin, hair loss

Tests: X-ray (discovered enlarged lymph nodes), CT scan (confirmed enlarge lymph nodes), PET scan (detected cancer cells), mediastenoscopy (surgical procedure to take a biopsy of cancerous cells and confirm diagnosis), MUGA scan (to make sure heart was strong enough for chemotherapy), and bone marrow extraction (to check for cancer in bone marrow).

Diagnosed by: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Stony Brook University Hospital

Age of Diagnosis, Background: 22, no previous cancer history, no history of family blood cancer

Tumor Presence: Large tumor behind my thymus gland, which was causing the shortness of breath. Smaller, dispersed tumors in lymph nodes on both sides of my chest cavity.

Treated By: Dr. Douglas Gladstone, Stony Brook University Hospital

Medical Device: Port-a-cath in chest for intraveneous access.

Regimin: R-EPOCH chemotherapy. Included rituxin, doxorubicin, etoposide, vincristine, cyclophosphamide and prednisone.

Treatment: Inpatient 96-hour drip chemotherapy cycle, twice-weekely complete blood counts, and PET scans every two chemotherapy cycles. Blood transfusions if blood count was too low or if I had an infection (received 10 transfusions).

Length of Treatment: July 2005-November 2005, with tumor disappearance after second cycle (remission).

Additional Medications: Neulasta injection after every chemotherapy cycle, Compazine and Emend for nausea, iron supplement, non-asprin/non-acetaminophen pain relievers

Post-Cancer Care: PET scans every three months for the first two years; twice yearly for following two years. Follow-up oncology appointments.

Outlook: So far so good!

Cancer can be a very scary thing, but the best way to get through it is support and proper care. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at amanda AT amandanoelle.com. Or, here are some helpful cancer links:

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