Message from Hayley: I have a major life update I want to share. Most people around me know already, but I want to acknowledge it now. I have cancer. Specifically, nodular sclerosing classic Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My journey started several months ago. Sometime in the spring, I noticed an odd lump on the left side of my neck, just above my collar bone. It didn’t hurt, it wasn’t really noticeable, it moved when I pushed at it, it was kind of hard, but because it moved it was hard to tell. I didn’t have any other symptoms, and continued on with my life, thinking I’ll keep an eye on it. If it doesn’t go away I’ll get it checked out. Beginning of July I decided, since this thing is still there, I should go in for a physical, since I’m due anyway, and just point it out and see what they say. I also couldn’t tell if it had gotten bigger. If it had, it wasn’t very much or very noticeable. Well, at my physical my primary doctor looked and felt it and decided I should go in for an ultrasound of that area, just to see what’s going on. The following week I went and had an ultrasound, which showed 2 abnormal and enlarged lymph nodes. So my doctor ordered a needle biopsy and I got that scheduled for the next week. The needle biopsy was, admittedly, really scary. There’s a large needle, a loud clicking sound as they pull tissue, and I was wide awake. The area was numb, but the whole situation was scary and foreign. I hadn’t met the doctor or the team involved. The biopsy also caused that area to become swollen and bruised for several days. Luckily, my hair covered it so I didn’t draw any attention. At this point, only Ben and my parents really knew what was going on with me. I had a feeling I would get bad news. Around 1 in the afternoon on July 29th (my 25th birthday for those keeping track) I got the call from my doctor that they found lymphoma. From there I had a lot to do, including imaging, meeting an oncologist, checking a second opinion, and getting all my medical ducks in a row. After my PET/CT scans they found 2 enlarged lymph nodes on the left (as also shown in the ultrasound), a smaller lymph node on the right, the lymph tissue around my heart, and potentially in my bone marrow, all showing signs of cancer. I will be starting chemotherapy this week and will be on a 6-month treatment course to eradicate the cancer. They are not planning radiation and I shouldn’t need surgery to remove tumors, either. It’s been a whirlwind, especially because I have felt completely myself. No fatigue, unexplained weight loss, pain, fevers, or other weird changes. Just a lump. This news is terrifying, awful, unfair, stressful, etc. But I have an amazing support system. My Mom Carrie has been a warrior, mama bear coming with me to major appointments making sure I get all the information I need. Ben has been helpful and supportive and comforting and stabilizing. My Dad Nic sends me encouragement often. Katie has been an amazing friend helping me feel normal. And so many others have shown kindness and support. I am not sharing all of this because I want sympathy. But I felt it was important to share. I welcome prayers as I go through this time because it will be hard. If you have questions, feel free to message me. I am really open about all of this and will answer what I am comfortable with. Hodgkin’s is extremely curable and I have faith in God and my cancer team that I will kick this and come out stronger on the other side. Here’s hoping we’re cancer-free by Easter!
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