Hodgkin's Lymphoma Cancer Grad- Maria
Name: Maria Alicia Barajas
Age at Enrollment: 17
Major: Stage IV Hodgkin's lymphoma
What were the primary symptoms you experienced prior to diagnosis? Night sweats, itchiness, unexplainable weight loss, mass on neck.
What symptom(s) lead you to go to the doctor? Mass on neck & fevers for a week straight.
Courses Completed: 5 months , 5 cycles of chemotherapy
What was your hardest moment (or moments) and how did you you get through it/them? My hardest moments were not being able to do many things for myself. The chemo affected me really badly. I would get ill almost every chemo. Probably the hardest part for me was losing my hair. I got through the hard moments by sticking by my parents side and praying to God.
What advice would you give to someone who is newly diagnosed? What advice would you tell them to ignore? The advice I would give someone newly diagnosed would be to cry it out if you want to cry. Cry as much as you need to. I would also suggest for them to keep their faith. I would tell them to ignore the people saying to "stay positive" because it is very hard to be positive dealing with such horrible news.
How did your family and friends respond? My family and friends were all very devastated.
When you feel overwhelmed or anxious, what do you do? When I'm overwhelmed or anxious I listen to music.
Have you created any meaning out of this experience? If so, what was it/how did you do it? I have created meaning out of this experience by sharing my own personal experiences on my Instagram. I am trying to spread the word that cancer effects the lives of many, no matter the age.
How did/do you find joy during this experience? I found joy during all of this by knowing that I had my family while others may not have any family or support like me.
If you could write any life advice you wanted on a billboard that would reach millions of people, what would it read? Since my diagnosis, I realized that life is too short. I would want a billboard that reads "don't let your fear hold you back from your dreams".