Well where do I begin……it all started in the spring of 2013 I was 26 years old I noticed a small lump on the side of my neck it was nothing bad, To me it was like a swollen gland and I had them plenty of times before in my life so thought nothing of it. I didn’t feel unwell or out of sorts so left it to go away by itself the same way it appeared well a few weeks went by I noticed the lump was still there and after showing family and friends who were very concerned I grudgingly agreed to visit my local doctors.
by the time I got around to finally making the appointment thinking to myself “it’s only a swollen gland I don’t understand why everyone is so worried” I had noticed a few changes in myself I was waking during the sweating profusely and having to change bed sheets also I was very lethargic during the day always having a nap while my daughter napped in the afternoon other than this I felt absolutely fine.
The appointment came and I went to the doctors thinking I must have a throat infection or something. I went in ready to be told yes miss Fisher you have an infection here is some antibiotics and be on my way. the doctor done all the usual obs asked me a few questions and told me he thought I might have glandular fever so took some blood and told me to call back in a weeks time. I left feeling the same saying to my mother “see I told you it was fine” and went home to get on with daily life as a single mother off two young girls.
About five days passed and I received a phone call from my local GP asking me to go down as they had received my test results this kind of worried me as I knew that if the results came back clear or I just needed antibiotics they would tell me over the phone. I got to the doctors this was the Friday exactly five days after my blood test thinking aw it’s not bad I’ve got to get more bloods or its a cyst I need removed something along those lines. I went into the room full of smiles not feeling ill or anything just normal kim with a small lump on her neck nothing else. I sat down and the doctors said we got your results and im happy to say its not glandular fever but we need you to go in for a biopsy tomorrow I thought jeez that was awfully quick.
So I got ready and was in the hospital for eight o’clock the next morning it was a day op sop in and out the same day. I wasn’t nervous I just thought they’d take a little needle and take a small biopsy before removing the cyst or whatever it was. I was wrong before I knew it I was being wheeled into theatre and being put to sleep I woke up which to me felt like seconds later with a very large swollen cut on the side of my neck and once I ate and drank something I got sent home to await the results.
once home I noticed the next day that my neck had started to swell up but a lot worse than before it was way more noticeable. intact my whole neck and head was aching I just thought it was due to them removing whatever it was in my neck.
On the Saturday morning after the operation my neck looked like this very sore and very much swollen with a cut to match.
Monday morning came and at exactly eight o’clock in the morning my phone rang it was the hospital asking me to go in at 2pm that same day I thought “that was very quick” so with my mum I bundled my girls at this point aged 3 and 7 into the car and off to the hospital we went. I was told to go to the oncology department I didn’t know what oncology was before this I had always been a very healthy woman never been in hospital or broken any bones nothing at all.
On the way top the hospital I asked my mum “do you know what oncology is?” she didn’t know either and we were nearly at the hospital by then so I decided I would google oncology…….I don’t know if this was a good idea or not but the first words that came up was……CANCER my heart actually sank I tried not to show it as the girls were there I had to stay strong for them.
We got to the hospital and into the oncology department where I was met by the most amazing nurse who was so pleasant and told us the doctor would be along shortly so we waited “which felt like forever” in reality it was only a few minutes. The doctor came out his office with this huge smile on his face something I’ll never forget his smile was literally from ear to ear I don’t know if I was comforted by it or frankly a little more frightened.
He asked me to come through into the room my girls were out with the nurses playing in the playroom and my mother followed behind me I thought we were going into his office but instead he kept walking and opened the door to another room ill never forget what it was like it had four chairs with a small table and a little vase of flowers in the middle of the table we took our seats and I sat staring at him I don’t even think I blinked once.
He opens the blue medical folder and takes his seat still with that weird but also kind of reassuring huge smile and tells me they’ve received my results back from my biopsy and he was very sorry to have to tell me I had Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma T-cell a rare form of CANCER. my heart fell to my stomach I looked over at my mum and her face was just complete shock.
Then he said “but it’s curative and we’re starting your treatment on Friday” I was still in shock I didn’t know what to say he started to show me a pamphlet on the type of cancer I had. I couldn’t even take in any words he was saying until he said those words no woman EVER wants to hear “I’m sorry but with the chemotherapy you will receive you will unfortunately never be able to have any more children” I thought it couldn’t get any worse but at the same time I wasn’t bothered I just wanted to know if i’d still be here for my two girls i already have.
He tells me what time to come in on Friday to start my chemotherapy and we leave to go home still numb we got in the car and I turned to my mum and I could see the fear and pain in her eyes staring back at me and she held back the tears so much and I said “its ok mum im not going anywhere who would look after the girls” she gave me a massive hug and said I know honey I know.
I don’t know if I was just numb from the news or what I was feeling but I didn’t cry not even once even getting home and telling the rest of my anxious family I still didn’t cry I just kept repeating the words “its ok its curative, I’ll be fine I have to be for the girl’s sake”. and i got on with my daily life anxiously awaiting the friday coming.
That week felt like it was a year it completely dragged in I had to go for an MRI scan of my whole body which was very daunting but I just kept my head high and i tried to not worry about it or at least show I wasn’t worrying especially in front of my girls I tried to shield them from it all mummy was just not well and needed medicine to make me better. I hope it was working i’m not sure if it did or not.
the day finally came I headed to the hospital with anticipation not knowing what I was walking into but I knew I wasn’t alone my mother was going to be right there by my side. I got to the hospital and went straight to the oncology department once there I met these amazing nurses who talked me through everything that was going to happen but first I needed to speak to the specialist. I went to his office and sat down he told me that the kind of cancer I had was an aggressive form of Hodgkins lymphoma and that since my biopsy where they had taken 6 golf ball sized tumours from my neck (I didn’t know this) the cancer had spread from my lymph nodes to my tonsils and stomach and I needed the chemotherapy and fast!
The specialist explained that he had held a meeting the night before with seven of the top specialists in the field and they all agreed on a Chemotherapy treatment called CHOP which at the time I had no clue what he was talking about but now I know that it stands for this…
- Cyclophosphamide (brand names cytoxan, neosar)
- Adriamycin (doxorubicin / hydroxydoxorubicin)
- Vincristine (Oncovin)
- Prednisone (sometimes called Deltasone or Orasone)
It is given through a drip in my arm over a couple of hours very slowly every four weeks for six months starting from today. Also he told me that the chemotherapy I would be getting would make me sterile and we didn’t have any time to freeze my eggs so I would never be able to have children on my own again that was heart wrenching I was only 26 and had the choice completely taken away from me but I had to do it I had to focus on getting better for my girls sake so off I went through to the medical room.
Every week i’d need to get my bloods taken to make sure my blood platelets were high enough and my white blood cells weren’t too low then I’d get weighed and they would make up my Chemotherapy that day it was given through a drip in my arm over a few hours very slowly as not to overpower my system. The first dose wasn’t too bad it was a weird feeling sort of like pins and needles all over my body they give you a lot of anti sickness tablets during the chemotherapy too. Once finished I was sent home to get on with the rest of the month and await the next dose.
the week following was very hard I was constantly sick in fact some days needing my mother to pick me up off the bathroom floor, I eventually had to move in to her house it was getting so bad I could hardly lift my head off the pillow and needed help with my girls life didn’t stop just because I was having Chemotherapy. The days went on and it was just a blur of medications and sickness then the dreaded hair starting to fall out it was very sore to the point I begged my mother to shave my head just to ease the pain and stop seeing it fall out in huge clumps on my pillow or when I was having a shower. I could see how much pain she was in while doing it but the relief it gave me was amazing and by two weeks I had no hair left on my body eyelashes, nose hairs even pubic hair all gone.
The next few months was just a repeat of medications, chemotherapy trying to get better then starting all over again at around the half way mark which was three months I had gotten myself into the swing of things and moved back in to my own house with the girls my mother would come and help me out if needed but I wanted to fight and show I could do it show my girls I was strong and that I wasn’t going anywhere on extremely bad days id stay over at my mothers but all in all I done it myself.
Around this time I received another MRI scan and got the news that the chemotherapy was working the cancer was disappearing in fact it wasn’t there at all just three months baths of this strong chemotherapy and it was gone!!
I couldn’t believe it I was actually winning the fight I just had to get through another couple of months and this was all over I could get my life back.
I had a couple of scares where my blood cells were too low and couldn’t get the chemo that week and my blood pressure was far too low to the point I should’ve been out cold but I wasn’t I just kept pushing and fighting through as much as I tried to hold it together some days got extremely hard so hard in fact that I just wanted to give up the fight but my mothering instincts kicked in and when I looked at my girls I knew I had to keep going and win this battle so on I plodded.
After another couple of months the last chemotherapy appointment came and went and I was free I had no residual signs of cancer in my body I WON I beat the disease that tried to kill me fair enough I had no chance of having children again and my body was completely knackered by all the drugs but I was ALIVE and free!! It was the best feeling I have ever experienced!!
I honestly wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my local GP who spotted the signs quickly and my local NHS doctor who was quick off the mark and knew exactly what needed to be done and also my parents who put their life on hold to help me every single day for 6 months to get me through it I am one very lucky woman and I am a fighter!!
Here are some pictures of my journey…
Thank you for reading my story……I hope that even if this reaches out and helps even one person it’s been totally worth sharing.