That's the story I desperately wanted to read when I received a cancer diagnosis a little after Thanksgiving. But that's not sensational. That's not the story people tell. That's not news-worthy or gossip-enticing or emotion-provoking. But I still need the story to be true, so I'm creating it, clinging to the narrative of normalcy and learning what that might mean. I'm also writing this for the newly cancer-diagnosed twenty-something who needs this narrative to be true for them, or at least a narrative to throw hope into.
This here - this blog of sorts - is both for me and for you. I'm a writer by choice, by profession, by background. So it seems natural for me to sit in front of a keyboard in times of crisis, to sort out the unknown on blank, white pages, cursors blinking back at me. But I've also learned that there are parts of me I don't want to share, parts too sacred for the publish button, too soft and tender to release into the internet abyss or even into the hands of those who care deeply for me. I think it's important to honor those parts. And as much as facing cancer is sensational in and of itself, I'm testing how much I want cancer to occupy the narrative of my life; how much I want cancer to define me.
So this blog will be me carefully, messily tip-toeing that line of privacy and the publish button; providing updates for those I love and who love me, narrating a path of hope for the terrified young person discussing survival statistics, and lastly, me earnestly scouting and tentatively defining normalcy, beauty, and hope.
- Diagnosis: Hodgkin's Lymphoma - nodular sclerosing sub-type (staging is irrelevant for this cancer because of the overall high survival rate).
- Cancer sites are two swollen lymph nodes and a mass in my chest (the mediastinum) all above the diaphragm.
- Treatment is 12 sittings of chemo (6 cycles of ABVD). No surgery. No radiation.
- Treatment at the University of Colorado Anschutz Campus just outside of Denver, CO.
- Chemo every other Friday.
- Six months of treatment.
- I experienced zero cancer symptoms aside from a painless swollen lymph node on my neck. Went to the doctor to get it checked out. Confirmed cancer diagnosis about 3 weeks later. I felt perfectly healthy. A CT and a biopsy said otherwise. Heading into chemo then presents itself with unique challenges for the patient who experiences no cancer-related symptoms.