Hodgkins Lymphoma Grad- Racheli
Age at Enrollment: 21
Major: Hodgkins Lymphoma stage 3B
What were the primary symptoms you experienced prior to diagnosis?
All of the symptoms! Back aches, coughing, night sweats, itching, weight loss, fatigue and ultimately, I found a lump in my neck.
What symptom(s) lead you to go to the doctor?
My cough., although the doctors kept telling me I had bronchitis. What ultimately got me to keep going back were all the symptoms that followed. I was officially taken seriously after a lump popped up.
I got 12 rounds of ABVD chemotherapy.
What has been your biggest struggle since your diagnosis?
Accepting long term side effects as my new normal and remembering to take my daily meds.
What was your hardest moment (or moments) thus far and how did you you get through it/them?
The most difficult moment through my diagnosis was when I was diagnosed with Pulmonary Emboli (blood clots in my lungs). I was transferred from the chemo center to the ICU via ambulance and had to stay in the hospital for a week, under close supervision to make sure that my clots were under control. This was the scariest moment because clots are very hard to detect when it’s not something you’re looking for and they can be extremely deadly. The way that I overcame this experience was to just trust my doctors, ask questions, do research and practice mindfulness in my darkest moments.
What has been your biggest accomplishment since your diagnosis?
I’d say that my outreach via my social media platform has been my biggest accomplishment. Because of my outreach I have completely decided to change the course of my life by switching majors from Special Education to Psychology so that I can support patients like me through their experiences. I have also built a strong relationship with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society and raised $50,000 this past year!
What advice would you give to someone who is newly diagnosed? What advice would you tell them to ignore?
I would say to take it all in and not be afraid to ask questions and do the research. It’s important to be present through this experience so that you can learn how to take this diagnosis and make something meaningful out of it. I can’t stress enough to advocate for yourself and make sure that you are heard.. heard with your friends, your family and your healthcare team.
When you feel overwhelmed or anxious, what do you do?
I journal, meditate and make my self some soothing tea! A bath is usually in the mix as well.
What did you know about the type of cancer that you were diagnosed with prior to your diagnosis?
Next to nothing!!
What do you now want people to be aware of?
I want people to be aware that the fight doesn’t end when you become cancer free. Life After Cancer is it’s own beast and finding your new normal can be just as difficult as sitting in the infusion chair, especially as a young adult.
Have you created any meaning out of this experience? If so, what was it/how did you do it?Absolutely! My meaning is to help others overcome adversity with positivity!
How did/do you find joy during this experience?
I found joy through connecting with others that were going through the same experience as me along with sharing my journey and doing my best to help others!
Since your diagnosis, what new belief, habit or behavior has most improved your quality of life? How has your diagnosis informed your life?
I confirmed my belief that we must look at all the wonderful things we have in life and practice gratitude, even on our darkest days. In order to overcome our life’s adversities, we must focus on what we can control as opposed to what is out of our hands.
If you could write anything you wanted on a billboard in NYC’s Times Square that would reach millions of people, what would it read?
Everything is gunna be ooookay!