Lauren Firenze Gill
Location: Nottingham, UK
Diagnosis: Hodgkin's Lymphoma (Stage 4)
2019, you have been the most unpredictable year of my life.
This year was the first year I had everything planned before the year started – festivals and holidays were all booked – but little did I know that I wouldn’t be able to make most of these plans.
Life threw an unexpected health blip my way – cancer.
In September 2018, after I drank any type of alcohol I started feeling numbing pain in my right arm and down the right side of my neck. I knew something wasn’t right in my body, so I went to the doctors in the new year.
After a lot of blood tests, scans and x-rays, I was diagnosed in April 2018 with stage 4 Hodgkin's Lymphoma – a type of cancer that travels through your lymph nodes. A further CT scan confirmed two lumps; one in the right side of my chest under my windpipe and the second in my right lung. The good news is I've been told it’s curable, however I’d need to have chemotherapy to kill it.
I was given the option of having fertility treatment before I started chemotherapy, which I did, and was then given the option of two different types of chemotherapy. I chose the more intense chemotherapy option called BEACOPP; this means treatment over 4 days; Monday (6 hours), Tuesday (4 hours), Wednesday (4 hours) and the next Monday (2 hours). This is followed by a 2 week rest and recovery break and that’s one round complete. This option is based on 4-6 rounds and lasts 3 months, vs. the alternate option lasting 8-12 months.
I chose the more intense chemotherapy as I want to get this cancer blip gone as soon as possible and get back to living a normal 25-year-old life.
I've set up a YouTube channel to keep everyone updated, and to share tips and advice I’ve found throughout my journey so far. Watch below if you'd like to learn more about me, my diagnosis and how I got on with my first round of chemotherapy.
One piece of advice:
This is all part of your journey and your life tapestry. Remember, the pain, stress, hair loss, body changes, down days... They are temporary. Don’t let cancer take your identity and steal your sense of self, it’s mind over matter and you’ve got this! Stay positive, believe in your body's ability to fight, nurture and nourish your body and listen to it. Time is just a number and no matter what duration or stage your diagnosis/treatment is at, there is an end to treatment and each day you are one step closer. Don’t stop fighting.
Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Brave Collective. While the information is considered to be true and correct at the date of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of the information.