For the month of March, Radiant’s Helping Hands program strayed from the norm and chose a family to give back to instead of a local non-profit.
The mother of this family unit was recently diagnosed with Non Hodgkins’ Lymphoma and was in need of a good central air conditioning system. In addition to helping this family out with their AC needs, we also wanted to know her story.
Here’s What She Told Us
“On October 23, 2013 at the age of 38 , I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. About 6 weeks prior to my diagnosis, I kept telling my husband that I felt like I had the flu, but only my upper body ached, and I never ran a fever. I had just found out that I was pregnant at the time, so I chalked my symptoms up to the hormones and pregnancy, but it kept getting worse. I never felt good. I started noticing a pain in my right shoulder, but I also sleep on my right side, so again, I didn’t think anything wrong until the pain got worse.
“One morning in the shower I felt a lump in my under arm. It was about the size of a pecan and hard. I called my OB that day and made an appointment to see him the very next day. At this point, I still had full range of motion of my right arm, but it was sore and tight. My doctor was concerned and suggested I go have a breast ultrasound right away. The next day I was at the clinic getting an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed abnormal lymph nodes, so the doctor performed a mammogram. This was on Wednesday, Oct 9. The mammogram came back normal, so my next step was to go back to my OB for further testing. He set me up with an appointment with a surgeon for a biopsy, but the surgeon was booked and I had to wait a week to see him. Over the weekend, the pain in my arm got so much worse that I could no longer lift my arm to wash or brush my hair, and I was crying in pain at night.
“On Monday, Oct 14, I went to see my Primary doctor, because I was miserable all weekend from the pain. She looked at my arm and said not to wait until my appointment with the other surgeon that Wednesday, and wanted me to see her surgeon in her office ASAP. I did. He did a needle aspiration biopsy that was so painful, I cried the whole time and could barely drive home. I kept my other appointment with the first surgeon and went to see him that Wednesday. When he saw the pain I was in and the way that I could no longer move my right arm due to the swollen lymph node, he made me go get a core biopsy the very next day. That was Thursday, Oct 17. The results took the weekend to come back, so when he called me on Tuesday, Oct 22, I was at work and he told me the biopsy showed a tumor and that I had Lymphoma. I was shocked at the news and honestly didn’t understand what that meant. I remember asking him if the tumor was malignant. He replied that it wasn’t a malignant tumor that could be removed, it was lymphoma. He then told me he set me up with an appointment with an oncologist. I think my brain shut down at that moment because I just remember crying and thinking that oncologist means cancer. I called my husband, and we both left work immediately.
“Wednesday, October 23rd, I had an MRI that morning, and then went to talk to my now oncologist. My oncologist showed me my MRI scans and it showed a significant mass above my right breast that went from my collar bone all the way down to my underarm. What I had first felt was the size of a pecan. This thing had grown from that size to now this huge mass about the size of a baseball in just one month. In one month I had gone from full mobility in my right arm to where I couldn’t drive, wash my hair, or sit up straight without being in extreme pain.
“My oncologist explained to me and Ryan that I had a rare case of Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and that my cure rate about 70-90 %. I was hospitalized on October 30 because I was in extreme pain, and the location where I had the 2nd biopsy had turned into a huge infection that spread to my whole right breast. I missed taking our daughter trick or treating. I felt so bad for not being there for her that night, but there was no way I could go out with her because even the drugs they were giving me through my IV weren’t killing the pain. The next Monday was November 4th, and it was my first round of chemotherapy. I had to do 6 rounds every three weeks.
“I remember meeting with a counselor first with my husband and family, where she explained everything about the different chemo drugs I would be given and their reactions, as well as what to expect in the coming months. I cried when she mentioned losing my hair. For a woman, or at least me, my hair is everything. It’s what makes us unique and keeps us beautiful. I still cry sometimes when I look in the mirror at my bald head, and especially now that I’ve lost my eyebrows too.
“All in all, I have completed my 6 rounds of chemotherapy and am on my way to recovery. My hair slowly growing back, but my energy is taking a lot longer to return. I still get tired so easily and mornings are still hard for me.
“What all this has taught me though is that you need to listen to your body. I knew all along something wasn’t right. When I found the lump, even though it was small, I knew I had to get it looked at. It took about a month for me to get my final diagnosis, due to seeing so many different doctors and 2 different biopsies, but in that one month my lump grew from the size of a pecan to the size of a baseball and left my right side in excruciating pain and incapacitated.
“Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to go see a doctor if you find something on your body that isn’t quite normal, or if you don’t feel right. 9 times out of 10 it’s nothing, but if you are like me, I always thought that at 38, a runner, healthy eater, I could never get cancer. Grandparents get cancer, not young adults. I was wrong. I have cancer, and honestly it’s been hell, and extremely difficult to deal with at times, but with the love and support from my husband, family, and friends I’ve been able to manage.”
Radiant Plumbing & Air Conditioning is so proud to have worked with such a deserving family, and we admire their strength. To learn more about our involvement with this family, or to hear more of their story, click here.