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Seren

Seren, diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, talks about the challenges of getting a diagnosis. 

Seren

I was 19 and at Sheffield University when I began to feel very tired, as well as having lost my appetite. Over a short space of time I had lost a stone in weight and was picking up lots of infections. Having been someone who had always been healthy, I now felt ill all the time with a number of non-specific symptoms.

It wasn’t until I noticed a growing lump on the side of my neck that I eventually went to the doctors. Within the space of a couple of weeks more lumps had appeared. The doctor wasn’t too concerned and suggested it could be glandular fever. However blood tests were run which flagged up inflammation which suggested it could be glandular fever or a virus. The blood tests also showed that I was anaemic, so I was recommended to add more iron-rich food into my diet. However, the symptoms did not go down so I went back to see the doctor. 

A neighbour of ours had been diagnosed with lymphoma some time ago, and recalling some of the symptoms he had experienced started to ring alarm bells. 

The symptoms weren’t improving, in fact I started to feel a horrific pain in my neck after drinking alcohol; the lumps seemed to double in size after just a couple of drinks.

 
Being away at university, I had kept my concerns from my family, but as soon as I mentioned it to them they were insistent that I didn't ignore the symptoms. 
Seren

Because I was still feeling unwell with increasing symptoms, I went back and forth to the doctor over the next few weeks. Being away at university, I had kept my concerns from my family, but as soon as I mentioned it to them they were insistent that I didn’t ignore the symptoms. 

By now I was more tired to the point I could barely function during the day. I was sleeping an abnormal amount of the day and couldn’t finish my course assignments.

I went back to the doctors for a repeat blood test and when the doctor examined me, he was concerned about how hard and large the lumps had become.  As a result, I was referred for urgent tests.

The blood tests showed high inflammatory markers and that I was anaemic. Blood cancer was mentioned and I was sent for a biopsy and CT scan just before Christmas 2022. My whole family were not the same over Christmas as everyone was so stressed and so concerned. It felt like a very long wait for the results of the tests.

When the phone call came, I was told they needed to do a repeat biopsy. They explained that it looked like it was Hodgkin lymphoma, due to what they were seeing under the microscope, but they were not 100% certain, hence the need to repeat the biopsy.

Six days later I received a phone call asking me to come in on 2 January. They wanted to discuss the results and make plans for the future. I can’t even explain how stressful that time was.
 

 
It was like my world had come crashing down in a couple of weeks. 
Seren

I was in complete disbelief. It was like my world had come crashing down in a couple of weeks. My situation at University was thrown into darkness.

At that first appointment with haematology I was asking questions for about an hour as I wanted to know as much as I could. I like to know information inside out before going ahead with something, especially as I now knew I was facing having chemotherapy

BEACOPP-DAC and escBEACOPP regimens were talked about, but in discussion with my healthcare team ABVD chemotherapy was considered the best option. I wanted to consider fertility and side effects and ABVD seemed the best option, as well as having great success rates. 

I can’t pretend the chemotherapy wasn’t tough but the mid treatment scan showed that I had a full response to the chemotherapy.
I had been studying at Sheffield University but had to take a break for treatment. I am from Wales, and have decided to go to Bangor to start my second year of studies; something I am really looking forward to.