On Wednesday 26th October 2016 my world was turned upside down. I was 52 years old and was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma a type of Non Hodgkin Lymphoma and told that there was no cure. My husband and I and our adult children were all devastated. I kept thinking “why me?” I was fit, I didn’t smoke, I wasn’t overweight and didn’t drink to excess. However, I knew from my work (I am a chemotherapy nurse) that cancer doesn’t discriminate and that I shouldn’t be surprised at my diagnosis, after all one in two of us will develop cancer in our lifetime.
I first felt a lump deep in my armpit in April 2016 and saw my local nurse consultant at my GP surgery who told me that there was no lump there and to stop worrying. Throughout the summer I would occasionally think that I could still feel a lump but put it to the back of my mind as the nurse had said there was nothing there. However, early in the October I found another lump and after seeing my GP found myself having a barrage of tests at the hospital which culminated in my diagnosis. It turned out that I actually had several tumours and had probably had the lymphoma for quite a while without realising it as I had no other symptoms or so I thought. It turned out that the nerve pain I kept getting in my leg when I went to bed was actually caused by a tumour pressing on a nerve, however some radiotherapy to the affected area soon sorted it out.
Follicular Lymphoma is very slow growing and it was decided that as I had no other symptoms I would go on “watch and wait”. This means that I am seen every three months by the consultant at the hospital to monitor how I am doing and to see if I need to start chemotherapy. At the moment I remain on “watch and wait”. It’s quite a difficult situation to be in knowing you have cancer but no treatment is needed at the present time, however I am making the most of the time I have whilst not on chemotherapy.
I decided to access the treatments and counselling sessions available from ‘Caring for me’ earlier this year when I found that I wasn’t coping very well with my work and home life. I was finding that I was increasingly anxious and stressed. At first I was very reluctant to access counselling as I felt that it “wasn’t for me” but I decided I would give it a go and I am so pleased that I did. I found it hugely beneficial to talk to someone who wasn’t a member of my family or a friend. I have also accessed reflexology through ‘Caring for me’ and I have found this to be very relaxing and have frequently found myself falling asleep during these sessions.