I was 20 when I was diagnosed. I went into the hospital, after much persuasion from friends and my boyfriend, in December because of a golf ball sized lump in my neck. At the hospital I was told I had Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I was transferred to another hospital and within 24 hours was rushed into emergency open heart surgery. The cancer had caused my lymphnodes to squeeze out the liquid they hold and it had form around my heart and was literally crushing it.
I was told I would have lived maybe two more days if it had not been found. I would have died before my daughter's 2nd birthday. I was told I would never have any more kids after my treatments.
I spent Christmas and New Year's in the hospital (a total of almost 3 weeks). I went through chemo treatments every other week. I spent a whole day getting my treatments. When my hair first started to fall out I decided I was going to have control of the situation for once and I had it shaved off. I hated wearing wigs and my only other option was scarves (headbands weren't as popular back then). I wore my baldness with pride because I was a warrior and I was going to be a survivor. Five months after my last treatment I found out I was pregnant. I had two children after my cancer, beating the odds I had been given.
Cancer is harder than anyone can imagine. You don't completely understand how someone feels until you've gone through it. After I was feeling better I decided to help bring a little joy to cancer patients. I bring cookies to the cancer floor in the hospital during Christmas and I volunteer at every opportunity I can. I have only been able to reach out to older warriors because my town is too small for children's cancer.
After finding out about Headbands of Hope, it has inspired me to do even more, especially for children. You give little girls a gift of more than a headband, and that's what amazes me. Your headbands can give them pride in being a warrior and in being bald. I want to pass that message on in my community too.
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