I’ve been meaning to do this for a while but haven’t gotten around to it. Partly because I still am in disbelief and partly because every time I sit down to write I have way to much to say and I get overwhelmed. I think I am finally ready.
On July 18, 2016 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 22 years old.
I felt my whole world crash and burn. No one wants to hear they have cancer but this news is especially not taken easily at the cusp of life. I’m 22 and free. Limited responsibilities. I enjoy being able to pick up and go where ever I feel like for the weekend. I have four classes left until I graduate college. One semester. I have dreams of graduating and finding a new place to explore and belong. I want to have a career that I love – to break down those barriers of adolescence and come into my own in this world. This has been a big year for me. I’m in love for the first time in my life with a wonderful person. I have made some amazing friends. I have formed opinions and beliefs of my own. I was telling a friend the other day, I have never felt more like myself than I do right now in life. All of this was a very roundabout way of me trying to say, my diagnosis was a huge blow.
The day I found out was a haze. None of it even felt real. I remember walking out of the doctor’s office and feeling 100% numb. It didn’t take very long for all of the texts and calls and Facebook messages to start flooding in. Words of encouragement and love and support covered me. People I had never met before or people I haven’t spoken to in years came out of the woodwork to offer up kind words. It was all a nice reminder that I am very loved.
I like to think of every single life experience as a learning opportunity so here is what I have learned about sympathy through this experience: While being positive and having a good attitude is important, so is dealing with the anger and confusion of this. I wish so much that someone would have come to me and said, “Wow Caitlyn this really sucks. This is really bad.” Texting someone and saying “everything is going to be alright” is just too easy and I will never do it again.
Cancer doesn’t affect a sole person. I may be the one physically with cancer but my family has cancer, my friends have cancer, my sweet boyfriend has cancer. Here is what I mean by that. My parents have taken days off of work to be with me at doctor’s appointments. They have spent hours researching treatments and nutrition and the best doctors in the area. They make their decisions based around whether or not the outcome will affect me or an appointment I have coming up. Back in March my boyfriend and I booked flights to Seattle. I have always wanted to go, we wanted to fly somewhere, we found cheap flights so we booked. That vacation was scheduled for August 13th through the 21st. Unfortunately that date range is going to interfere with my treatment so we will no longer be able to go. He doesn’t get to go because I am the one with cancer. That is what I mean when I say cancer doesn’t affect just one single person. It explodes, annihilating anything in it’s path. It even expels shrapnel so those who weren’t even close to the explosion still feel the sting.
Every day is different as this hits me in waves. Some days we are laughing about how I can dress up as Lord Voldemort for Halloween since I will be bald but some days are filled with me punching my steering wheel and screaming curse words through clenched teeth. I’m not going to sugar coat this. I am scared. I am angry. I will never understand why at 22 I have a rare cancer. This isn’t an ideal circumstance. BUT there is no option at this point but to just get through it. I fully intend to face Hodgkin’s head on and beat the hell out of it.
To the people who have asked, you are not being intrusive. Please ask any questions you think of. I didn’t even know Hodgkin’s existed until I had it so if I can help educate, I will.