How to Cope when a family member has Hodgkins Lymphoma

This post send by Sarah

Hi There!

I am a 22 year old female, but I am going to share the story of my 14 year old closest cousin. This may help you, as a cancer patient; or it may help anyone who has someone close to them that has been touched by cancer.

It was in March 2012 when my cousin found a small bump on her chest. The bump was hard and very painful. After X-rays were complete, the doctors assured her and her family that it was nothing to be concerned about.

She continued life as normal.

In December 2012, my cousin began experiencing extreme pain in her knee. She would wake up crying at night, and had even had a hard time walking. She was in so much pain that she was not able to eat – she lost 15 pounds!

By the end of January, the doctor\’s had realized the first bump on my cousins chest, was a cancerous tumour. It had spread to her leg, where a tumour developed and spread across her whole thigh (femur). The doctor\’s originally though my cousin would be diagnosed with a Sarcoma, a form of bone cancer.Her prognosis was not good.

After her biopsy, the doctor\’s realized that my cousin had Hodgkins Lymphoma. She had a very aggressive form of lymphoma, and needed intensive chemotherapy.

When our family found out that my cousin had cancer, we all felt a whirlwind of emotions. Her father would not leave his room- he was even getting sick to his stomach. Her mother had to put on a strong and smiling face to make sure my cousin and her siblings were not scared. My whole family put a strong face on for my cousin, but when we were alone – we would break down and cry our eyes out.

My cousin would have to spend 6 months as an inpatient in the hospital, because her chemotherapy made her at such high risk from infection, she was not allowed to go outside at the hospital or anything.

The night before my cousin was admitted, we spent the night hanging out at her house. She told me how scared she was to go into the hospital, she was so scared of the side effects of chemotherapy.

The doctor\’s warned us that she was going to get extremely ill and her hair would fall out very quickly.

As my cousin started chemotherapy, we waited… and waited.. and waited for her to begin getting very sick.
It did not happen! My cousin was on chemotherapy 24 hours a day for a few days, and then and then had chemoterapy every 12 hours. As soon as her counts were back up, they would start chemotherapy again.
My cousin did not throw up ONCE during her whole treatment. She became tired and would often have head aches, but she did not experience many common side effects of chemotherapy. She lost her hair around 2 months in.

After 3 months of chemotherapy, my cousins cancer was completely gone. She has now been in remission for almost 3 months.

Throughout the entire experience, my cousin was so strong and so positive – I truley believe that this is why she recovered so fast.

I remember talking to her about her hair falling out. I asked her if she was nervous.

She said, \"Well I can\’t do anything about it, I am not going to sit and cry about it\"

She has truly been an inspiration to me. With 8 years between us, I have learned SO much from her.

When you or someone you know is going through treatment, it is so important to find strength from those around you. Stay strong, and remain positive!

We are in a day and age, where anything is possible! Cancer treatment has advanced SO much, and there are a lot of ways to manage the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation!

When I first found out my cousin was diagnosed, I could not bare to see her. All I would do is cry.

When I finally built up the courage to face her, I felt SO much better. She brought out a strength in me I never though I had. We spent almost every day in the hospital together and became SO close.

There were many times throughout the journey where members of my family would break down, that is normal. It felt good for them to let their emotions out.

Although you might not be the one experiencing cancer, it is okay to feel upset, mad, or anxious. It is a compeltely normal way to react!

The journey that I have experienced over the past year has changed my way of life, I am now an employee at a local cancer centre, and spend time volunteering with cancer patients. I have found meaning in what happened to my cousin, and i love her so much!

I hope that those of you suffering can do the same.

If anybody would like advice, or simply would like to talk, please reply to this message.

July 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Friends and Family

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