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Patient tips Five ways I navigated a Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis

Five ways I navigated a Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis

Sabrina M.’s daily mantra is “you got this.” Following a Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis, she used that phrase as motivation to keep pushing through appointments and hard days. Here, Sabrina shares what helped carry her through a difficult diagnosis and treatment regimen.

  1. It’s OK to be scared, and it’s OK to be angry. “It’s cancer…” Those two words brought my world to a screeching halt and changed my life forever. Regardless of how strong you are, those words will put a fear in your heart like you’ve never known. It’s important to give yourself the time to process the devastating diagnosis you just received.
  2. Remember you’re more than a cancer diagnosis. It’s important to grieve after a diagnosis, but don’t allow that diagnosis to consume you. I remember thinking, “You can sit here and cry, feeling sorry for yourself, or you can pick yourself up and fight because the cold, hard reality is—yes, you have cancer. It sucks, but here we are.” I remember having this very conversation with myself when I found out I have Hodgkin lymphoma. Those feelings of devastation and anger didn’t last very long. Once the dust settled and I realized my only option was to fight, that’s exactly what I did. I reminded myself why I chose Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), Phoenix, and I put all my trust, faith and hope in my care team because I knew the doctors and staff there were going to do everything they could to help me beat cancer.
  3. Find your secret weapon that will help you power through hard days. For me, my secret weapon was my support system. I opened up and allowed my family and friends to help and support me. I know that some people are very private about their cancer battle, and I understand that. For me, it helped to be as open and honest about it as I could, and I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that I would have never gotten through it without my family and friends by my side. Having that strong, positive support system in my corner was my secret weapon. My friends and family wore bright green bracelets of support that read “Team Bri” on one side and “I Can and I Will” on the other. They helped keep me leveled and helped me keep my spirits up. They made it easy for me to keep my sense of humor during my cancer journey.
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  4. Don’t let cancer take away the things that make you you. Most people cry when they lose their hair after the first couple of chemotherapy treatments. I did the opposite—I laughed. When my hair began falling out, I decided to shave my head and save my poor scalp from the trauma of trying to hold on to each strand. I shaved funny designs all around my head and laughed about it. When I lost the last of my eyebrows, we drew silly designs on me and my dog Roscoe, who sat there and smiled the entire time as if he knew how silly he was being. That’s who I am. Cancer had already taken enough from me, and I refused to let it take away one of my greatest joys in life—the joy of laughter. Stay positive, even on your darkest days, and know that there’s always someone out there praying for you.
  5. Celebrate the wins. For me, this meant ringing the bell!! The day I rang the bell after my last chemotherapy treatment, I was walking out of the infusion area, and another patient stopped me and asked me if I just rang the bell and then asked if she could give me a hug. That meant so much to me. Before I left, she said she hoped to ring the bell one day, and I told her, "You will!" I think about that young lady often, and I hope and pray that she’s doing well and had her beautiful moment to ring that bell as hard as she could.

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