Hi, I’m Gemma age 33. It was in February 2012 that I noticed lumps in my groin. Naturally, I assumed that it was linked to some kind of infection and I wasn’t too worried. However, they continued growing and I had a range of tests and an unexpected operation to remove a lymph node.
At this time, my husband and I were in the middle of planning a move from Cologne in Germany, to Cheshire. I had recently taken over the running of a Medical Company in the UK, and therefore I was living part time in Poynton and part time in Cologne, working extremely hard for my new position and trying to organise a complicated international move. Surely that’s enough?
So I was concerned, but too busy to think on it too much. As my husband and I waved off the German delivery guys from our new house in Marple, the phone rang - the Doctor informed me I had “Follicular Lymphoma.”
So there it was. ‘Welcome to England’! For my poor hubby, never having lived in the UK before, his first day was a bit of a shocker. (The 4 months of almost continual rain which followed didn’t do much to improve his bewilderment, and the morning comment once he opened the curtains of ‘is it really still raining?’ made my heart go out to the poor chap.)
So, we needed to understand this illness. Firstly, luckily it is Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and low-grade, which means although it is not curable, it is treatable, and grows very slowly.
One confusing fact is that this disease is most common in 75 year old men. Hmm. You can imagine my reaction on seeing my fellow patients in the clinic…!
My family and friends were really supportive, although shocked and concerned. 8 years earlier we had lost my father to prostate cancer, so we had been shaken by the Big C’s devastating impact before.
There are several treatment options although the outcomes are unclear. There is little data for ladies of my age with such a type. This was the hardest for me to accept. I will need 4-5 months of Chemotherapy at some point, but this may be later in 2013, or even 2014, or even later!
‘Watch and wait’ is a hard concept, I have to wait for the cancer to spread more before it can be treated, and there is no clear plan yet.
It is very hard to accept this long term diagnosis, and the fact that it will return every few years, and need treating again. I had some real issues coming to terms with it.
The fantastic Beechwood staff have taught me to accept this better, and to take one day at a time. I felt reassured that my concerns were understandable and following complementary therapies I feel calmer and more able to deal with it all.
I feel more positive, and my fears have reduced. I am ready to face the world, run the company and have great fun with my husband, family and friends. Life is good! I still have the occasional ‘wobble’, but the support is there, for us both. What a difference.
It has also, finally, stopped raining. J