My name is Rachael Littore, and on the 7th of June, at 7pm I was diagnosed with Stage 3B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
I had just moved to Horsham earlier in the year to start my first teaching job. Six months in, I was loving it. I had made some good friends, loved my job and felt like I was a member of the community, a feeling I had missed whilst living in Melbourne.
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system. It’s a type of blood cancer as opposed to a tumour cancer that often occurs elsewhere in the body. I found a lump on my neck that was growing at a rapid rate. I went to my GP the next day and while I was there mentioned that I had really itchy skin, and really weird night sweats, considering it was already well and truly cold in the Wimmera.
This started days of testing and doctors appointments, of bad news, questions – with no answers, and phone calls, so many phone calls! In the end, we were told I had lymph nodes around my neck, behind my heart, and in my diaphragm; as well as fluid in my lungs and around my heart. Combined with my itchy skin in and night sweats and you get stage 3B.
It took eight days to get an official diagnosis. They were the longest eight days of my life. The diagnosis came with feelings of relief, and that made the whole thing feel more surreal. How can I have cancer, and how can I be relieved to find out I have cancer? It doesn’t make any sense, but from that night on, I knew that I was going to get better.
I’m undergoing chemotherapy, specifically the combination of ABVD. I need eight cycles, and each cycle is made up of two treatments. I receive treatment once a fortnight… All up that’s 16 doses of chemo over eight months.
At this point, I take each day one day at a time. I make plans, but break every second one. I have to be flexible and patient, with others but also with myself. I’m practicing my cross stitch, reading a few books, and learning to blog… Let me know how I go!