Meet Hodgkin's Lymphoma Cancer Grad, Danny Alotta!
Name: Danny Alotta
Age at Enrollment: 17
Major: Hodgkin's lymphoma / stage 3
Primary symptoms you had experienced prior to diagnosis: The worst flu ever
What symptom(s) lead you to go to the doctor?: My flu wouldn't go away
Courses completed: A few operations and either 20 or 22 rounds of chemo
What you’d like other men (and women) to know about your specific type of cancer: Hodgkin's affects your lymph glands which are located throughout your body and causes them to swell. Despite having Hodgkin's for nearly two years without knowing, if you're going to get cancer, Hodgkin's is the one you want as the cure rates are very high. I was blessed with a doctor that talked about all the issues and side effects prior to starting chemo- one of which was the potential effects on fertility. Having spoken with other young people who's doctor never had this talk with them, I'm truly fortunate. If you're facing treatment and haven't had children, please ask your doctor what your options are.
Any helpful tips or tricks for other people navigating a diagnosis? There is no magic wand or formula to help anyone through a diagnosis. As a teenager, I honestly didn't realize the severity of the circumstances for quite some time. You're presented with a situation and you have two choices. Accept it and deal with it or don't.
The day I walked out the door for my first round of chemo, I said to my parents "It's time for my Joy Juice!" During the course of my treatment, I gave myself fashion makeovers to boost my spirits. Whether getting all dressed up to get my chemo or my cousin bringing me new sneakers when I was in the hospital, these things truly made a difference! Today, Joy Juice is the name of my memoir, one person show, screenplay and best of all my foundation which provides fashion makeovers to teens with cancer. It's truly humbling that the method I once used to boost my spirits is now doing the same for others. To learn more, please visit our social media @JoyJuiceOrg website www.JoyJuiceInc.Org and/or watch the attached video from one of our makeover events. Hope you like them!
Anything you wished you knew prior to diagnosis? Honestly, ignorance is bliss. While it's good to be informed, there is definitely something to being said for being a teen that simply thinks he has a cold. Despite everything you're told, nothing can fully prepare you for that day when you receive your first round of chemo. I wish I had a more helpful answer to this but I'm pretty sure most people would agree. The feelings you go through will be unlike anything you've ever experienced. This actually leads me to your next question.
Did you learn anything about yourself? You will learn things about yourself you would have never thought possible because the road you'll travel will present obstacles you never knew existed. I know I'm painting a semi-bleak picture but I want to be completely honest. The journey is not a fun one. If you're reading this and you're currently undergoing treatment or facing a diagnosis please know you're not alone! However, I always say having cancer is the best and worst thing that ever happened to me. For one, you will find out who your friends are and who really cares about you. Furthermore, you will realize you have more fortitude than you would have ever imagined. I prefer to call myself a Fortunate as opposed to a survivor because I feel the word survivor implies that I did something that someone who didn't live didn't do. I pray that if you're reading this you too will one day consider yourself a Fortunate. If you are fortunate to come through the experience, you'll realize from that day forward, there is nothing you can't do.