What school did you attend? University of Victoria
Do you work? Yes, part time.
What are your career goals? A career in international public service, with an NGO, government or international organization
Your Cancer experience:
How did you find out you were sick? What led to the diagnosis?
I first noticed a lump in my neck in late summer 2010, and shortly afterward moved to the United States for the fall, where I didn’t have health insurance. When I finally go back to Canada early in 2011 I had it checked out. The doctor took one look and said right away he thought it was probably cancer.
What is your diagnosis?
Stage IIB Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
What year was it? What was your age at the time?
I was diagnosed February 2011, aged 24.
In which hospital are you treated?
Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, BC
At what level of education were you at diagnosis?
B.A. in History
What were your first thoughts when diagnosed?
It took quite a while to properly sink in. For the first few weeks I think I was irrationally optimistic, and trying to see it as more of an inconvenience as anything else.
How did your family react?
Very well; they were of course very concerned but they’ve been very supportive.
How did your friends react? Were you treated any different?
I’ve kept my diagnosis a little quiet and haven’t told everyone. The friends I have told have been great, very supportive and haven’t treated me any differently.
What did your treatment consist of?
I have six cycles of chemo, meaning twelve different treatments. It’s called ABVD and it takes about 3-4 hours once every two weeks. So far I don’t think I’ll need rads.
The week after my first chemo was brutal. I was a lot more tired than I thought I would be, and I felt extremely fatigued as well as restless and anxious and antsy at the same time, which was terrible. My mouth was killing me the first few days afterwards as well. The second treatment hasn’t been as bad. I haven’t been quite as tired and I got a mouthwash that helps the mouth pain.
What is your current medical status?
In treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma IIB
How is life different for you now post diagnosis (physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually)?
A bit early to say. Worse, on all scores, anyway.
What is the toughest part of your challenge?
The fatigue and the boredom.
What is the best part of your challenge?
Having to slow down and deal with some things in my life I would have had to do at some point anyway. I’ll have to be vague about that.
What really motivates you to keep going while you are sick?
Nothing really, I just take it one day at a time, do whatever I can to make myself feel better.
What lessons or messages have you taken away from your experience?
Too early to say, again.
What are your thoughts and feelings about your illness now?
What are some (if there are any you know of) preventative measures that people can take to lower their risk of having an experience like yours?
They don’t know what causes Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, so nothing really. Not being male between the ages of 15 and 35 helps, I think.
Did you attend any support groups during your challenge?
I have attended one, where I was less than half the age of the next nearest person to my age, which has been my experience throughout my diagnosis so far. I did have the chance to see Wrong Way to Hope and meet some other young adult cancer survivors briefly, which was a great experience.
Do you think attending one would have helped you?
I would certainly attend more if there were any dedicated to young adults with cancer in my area (south Vancouver Island)
How are you connected with Young Adult Cancer Canada?
I’m going to Retreat Yourself this year and will look for other opportunities to connect with YACC.
How did it happen?
I found YACC online.
Are you interested in helping others facing cancer challenges? Yes