Cancer: a student’s battle


I’ve always been interested in writing stories and poetry about my life. Truthfully, I’ve just been looking for any way to tell my story and maybe even help others who may be going through some of the same things that I am.

It started in May.

At first, it was small: I was feeling tired a lot and I also noticed that there was a lump under my left arm. I was curious, but postponed my doctor visit, telling myself it was ingrown hair or just bad deodorant. July came around and the lump was still there, forcing me to finally consult a doctor. The doctors were just as confused, and sent me to do a biopsy. Two weeks passed, and I fell into a façade of calmness, telling myself that no news is good news.

Then the phone call came. My doctor called me into her office to give me my results. As I walked into the room, the tense, guarded look on her face made my heart drum quickly and loudly in my ears.

So many thoughts were running through my head about what she was going to tell me. Finally, after what seemed to be a million questions, she looked me in my eyes and said, “Your results showed that the lump under your arm is suspicious of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes.”

I immediately started to cry. The only word that stuck to me was cancer. So many thoughts were running through my head. The doctor explained to me the details of this certain type of cancer and then she asked me to call my mother and let her know what was going on. She then said that she wanted my mother to come so she could talk to her in person. By the time my mom had arrived the next week, my entire family knew about my illness.

Family that I hadn’t heard from since freshman year suddenly appeared, and my phone rang endlessly with cousins, aunts, uncles, godparents, all calling to ask if I was alright.

After a series of tests to decide what treatment I could be receiving, the doctor told me chemotherapy was the best option. The tears flooded my eyes again as I asked, ¨Will my hair fall out?” All he could offer was more uncertainty and doubt, eluding a definite answer.

The cloak of worry, frustration, confusion and anxiety that I had battled since my diagnosis, slowly festering and seething underneath my relatively calm exterior, finally surfaced and cloaked me with impenetrable, unadulterated fear as I walked into Tallahassee Memorial Hospital for my first session of chemotherapy on Friday, Sept. 24.

All I could hear were the side effects that could possibly occur during my treatment drumming in my head to the rhythm of my erratic, pounding heartbeat: complications with my reproductive organs, respiratory issues, hair loss to name a few.

When I finally made it to my treatment room, there was a comfortable cushioned chair that resembled a lazy boy in the middle of the room. Seven hours imprisoned in that chair was unfathomable, but real and present.

The first hour was consumed with preparation; with the doctor explaining to me the different medicines as well as having me fill out paperwork, including consent forms. The nurse finally inserted the IV into my arm…it was starting.

I didn’t start to feel the side effects until that night. Nausea racked my body; I was throwing up constantly and my body was weak, too weak to even leave my bed.

It took four days for the symptoms to completely dissipate. My week of absence in school forced me to withdraw from school for the semester.

Even without the additional pressure of school, my life has a new set of rules and restrictions, leaving me feeling crippled.

The 180-degree turn that my life has taken makes me rely on my religion even more to provide sense and stability to my life. I’ve been praying every day. I’ve been blessed with great friends that have been looking out for me. But, I still just want it to be over. I want to go to class and worry about graduation and credits and parties and friends. I want to be me again.