Claire

Claire, diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, shares her first chemo experience

Claire

'Hi my name is Claire, I am 40 years old and was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in September 2019. My first ABVD chemo treatment (doxorubicin - registered as Adriamcycin, bleomycin, vinblastine and dacarbazine)  was scheduled for 2 October, three weeks after my diagnosis.

Although I had fully accepted my diagnosis and have found peace with it, the three weeks leading up to treatment were daunting, I had read a few articles and watched one video on YouTube, but it conveyed mainly negative experiences which lead me to feel anxious and unsure of the unknown.

 
My experience was, however, a very positive one.
Claire

My experience was, however, a very positive one. On the day of first treatment I was walking into the complete unknown and uncertainty of it all. The minute I walked in I felt at peace, I was warmly welcomed with a nice big leather reclining chair, just in time for lunch, and I was given a sandwich and had tea on demand through treatment. The canula I had fitted into my hand was no bother. They first administered what they call a 'flush' through my canula which is basically salt solution, this flush you receive in between each of the four chemicals of ABVD being administered. You just sit nice and comfy in your chair and the change over of chemos was completely painless. I could get up and go to toilet whenever I needed as I was hooked up to a little moveable trolley. For the first chemo, with the red looking chemical they gave me a glass of ice water, which helps prevent mouth ulcers after treatment.

 
I had come well prepared with my book, headphones and podcast, but barely used them.
Claire

I had come well prepared with my book, headphones and podcast but barely used them. I just sat and chatted with the four other people all receiving their treatment. We all shared our stories, laughing and joking at each other's misfortunes, It felt so immensely humbling. After chatting for some four hours with these people and feeling that deep connection, I did not feel alone any longer. I have the most amazing friends and family I could of possibly ever wished for, but cancer put me in the loneliest mental state I have ever felt. At the end of it all, all we have is ourselves and our minds. Although each one of our battles is completely different, we all shared this underlying understanding and compassion, I felt that the moment I walked in.

I have experienced so far very little side effects; a little nauseous and tired but that's it and I'm writing this 5 days in. I have no idea how the rest of the treatments will effect me or their side effects but I live with extreme gratitude for all that I have right now. Things could always be way worse!'

14 October 2020