Current Age (at time of profile): 23
How did you find out you were sick? What events led to the diagnosis?
I began to feel sick in August of last year. I became very, very tired. Then I lost my appetite and start losing weight. At one point (mid-September), I decided to go see my doctor about it. He prescribed anti-depressants because he thought I was burnt-out (I had school and three jobs at that time).
After taking the pills for three weeks, I had an allergic reaction and couldn’t stop scratching myself! Once, while I was scratching (I will always remember, I was with my two best friends in a coffee shop) I felt a mass at the bottom of my neck.
After two weeks, that mass had grown bigger so I went back to my doctor and when he saw it he told me: “This isn’t good. I think I know the explanation for your fatigue!” He took me off the anti-depressants and started the tests!
It took three months to get the correct diagnosis and at that point my mass was 15 cm wide! It was in January 27, 2007.
At what level of education were you at diagnosis?
I was in my second year of university.
Do you work? Yes! At the Hilton Lac-Leamy in HR.
What was your diagnosis?
I had a stage 3B Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
What are your career goals?
My career goal is to work in work relations
What were your first thoughts when diagnosed?
I thought, “How weird to learn it this way. When I learned about it I just had my biopsy and slept overnight at the hospital. You know how it is, you say sleep but unfortunately you don’t really sleep! So at 7 o’clock in the morning the nurse came to me and said: “I hear you didn’t sleep well last night. I can understand that! It’s not easy to learn you have cancer!” – Wow!
How did your family react?
It depends! Having two sisters, a brother and my parents, everybody had a different reaction! One of my sisters couldn’t stop crying, the other was like an ice pack! My brother was the comforting one and my father acted like I was telling him about a bad grade at school.
How did your friends react?
My closest friends just disappeared when I started chemo and I still don’t understand why! On the other hand I had a friend come to see me that I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years!
Some people were, and still are, very protective of me, calling to make sure I don’t do too much or that I am not too tired. Some others want to act as though I am the same and that nothing happened.
What did your treatment consist of?
Medical Side: Most of my journey was spent outside the hospital. I had eight rounds of regular chemo plus two rounds of intra-techal. I refused two intra-techal treatments because it made me so sick! I couldn’t stand it!
Non-Medical Side: Well, I had so many side-effects I wonder if I can remember them all! The biggest one was that my white blood cells dropped every time I had a chemo so I had to give myself neupogen injections! Yuk! I was also kicked into menopause, as my doc says. Hot flashes (oh, God!), no more period, lots of craving! Of course, I lost my hair and had numbness in my hands and feet for awhile. Let’s not forget, nausea, vomiting, and a metallic taste in my mouth!
What is/was the best part of your challenge?
I got closer to my family. We use to talk once in a while now we make it a rendezvous! Also, since my mother is now going through chemo, I can be super empathic.
Did you attend any support groups during your challenge?
No I didn’t. Someone from the Canadian Cancer Society gave me the number of a survivor but I didn’t want to hear about it. The less people talked about it, the less I would know what’s coming and the less I would be scared!