STORIES > ERICA LEE

I was always itchy, everywhere, and especially on my palms and the soles of my feet. I changed detergents, bought new bedding and socks, and I even scratched enough to bleed. One day, my boyfriend noticed I had a lump about the size of a golf ball at the base of my neck.

I ignored these symptoms for a long time, but the lump drove me to the health center, where my physician's assistant gave me a course of antibiotics to take, thinking it was an infection from an earring or something I'd eaten. When the swelling didn't go away, she referred me to another doctor, who suggested I undergo a biopsy of my lymph node the next day. A week later, I was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma, stage IIA.

After I was diagnosed, I felt completely numb. I was in the car with my dad, and as a family we've never been great about expressing emotions, so I told him my diagnosis and he said we would "take care of it." At the time, I had only heard about cancer when my grandfather was diagnosed with prostate cancer and passed away soon after from another cause. Even though I'd been told that treatment would "only be for six months, and then I could get on with my life," I know that this experience changed the rest of my life.

I went through chemotherapy for six months. I didn’t undergo any fertility preservation since I would have had to start treatment later.

My doctors and her staff will be watching my health for the next five years, and my prognosis is good. I’m beginning graduate school soon, and I’m moving to a new town too! I have always been prone to anxiety and depression, and like many patients, this worsened during treatment. I was in therapy before treatment but did not have access during treatment. I'm looking forward to beginning it again.

Erica Lee

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