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2016 was going to be MY year. I was graduating from pharmacy school in June, starting my dream job and going to marry my best friend and man of my dreams this September. I was looking forward to having a regular life without deadlines, homework, and exams every Monday. Terry and I had talked about all the traveling and adventures we wanted to do to the Keys, Miami, St. Augustine, basically anywhere and everywhere possible in Florida, just in case we would move back to Missouri after this year. Little did I know, I was going to have a new adventure, an adventure that nobody could ever imagine, one that would test me to my fullest and determine how strong I truly am. Today, I start my battle to beat Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
It all started on June 4, 2016 the night before my graduation from pharmacy school. I was laying in bed thinking about everything that I had accomplish and how everything was falling into place. As I was dreaming of my future, I discovered a large bump located on my right abdomen. I woke Terry up out of a deep sleep (seriously he sleeps so hard), and had him feel my "bump". We were both nervous and determined that I would call the doctor office to make an appointment on Monday, just to be safe. Since my family was in town I was uncertain whether or not I should alarm them, being that it was more than likely nothing serious, at least nothing that a few antibiotics couldn't cure. As my dad and I took a walk around the apartment complex, I decided that I would only tell him. I remember telling my dad that I thought it was cancer. I don't know what made me say that in that instance, but those words came out of my mouth as I persuaded him to feel the lump. (If you know my father, you know that anything medical is not his forte, so my words must have worried him for him to actually feel the lump). My family was scheduled to leave the next day, but I told him I would keep him updated after my appointment on Thursday.
My first doctor's appointment went well. I was excited to call Terry and tell him that the doctor diagnosed me with cat scratch disease. For those who do not know what cat scratch disease, it's when a cat scratches you or you have a cat that licks open wounds and causes bacterial infection. Mind you I don't have a cat or spend time with cats, and as "happy" as I was with this diagnosis, I decided that I would look into it a little further via the CDC. While at the first visit, I had blood work drawn and as I was awaiting the results, I finished my course of therapy. After over a week without results, I finally was able to get ahold of the doctor, who wanted me to come in to her office to discuss my results. Many of you may think, great she found out after one visit but unfortunately this is not true. She ended up charging me $50 to tell me I had a UTI and gave me additional medicine for my cat scratch disease, as the lump was not getting smaller.
After that appointment I decided that I needed another opinion. Being a "Pettet" and not liking regular visits to doctor's office, thus not having a primary care doctor, I ended up going to an urgent care doctor. When I told him my story about how I was diagnosed with cat scratch disease, he was appalled! He referred me to a surgeon with the belief that the lump was a lipoma, which is a fatty build up of tissue. One week after, mid July I had a biopsy at Blake Hospital where they did multiple incisions with the largest one being 3cm in my pelvic area. Shortly after waking up from the anesthesia in the recover room, the surgeon was at my bedside with news regarding preliminary results about the biopsy, that it was lymphoma. Sometimes I wonder how you are suppose to react when you get news that you have cancer. Looking back at that moment I don't know if I reacted the way I was suppose to. Somehow I was as calm as I could be and only shed a few tears. It was as if he said it but it wasn't real, because I mean it's just the preliminary results. Preliminary results, a term that has little meaning after taking organic chemistry at Mizzou, and preliminary results means don't worry there will be a curve. I was expecting a curve. I was expecting my "real" results to come back clean. I remember thinking maybe it was a mistake, I mean why else would they send the specimen off to another site for additional testing? I honestly did not and was not going to believe it.
Exactly one week later was my follow up with the surgeon. It was at this appointment where he told me that it was Hodgkin's Lymphoma and gave me paperwork stating it. I don't know about you, but when someone puts it in writing it does make it a little more legit. I mean, remember in school each semester you recieved your printed report card, but before it was printed you always had the chance to improve your grades? I really thought that I could "improve/change" my diagnosis and that somehow one week later it wouldn't be lymphoma.
Well that leads me to today. Today I had my mediport placed, which you can get more information in my journal entry. Ready or not, this is REAL. This is my life. This is my fight and I know that I cannot do it alone. I have never been a quitter, and I won't ever quit. There are too many people (and Roxy) depending on me to fight this battle and win. I keep telling all the nurses, it's just another bump in the road. It will make Terry and I really appreciate what we have in our lives and the unconditional love from family and friends.
We ask for prayers and good vibes as we take on this battle. We know many of you are busy in your daily lives, but if you could just take a minute out of your day for us, it would be greatly appreciated. It is important that we stay positive in this ride, because there are going to be good days and bad days, but in the end I want to make this experience as positive as possible given the circumstances.