Elephants and Tea: Hodgkin Lymphoma Issue 2021 - 5

diagnosis, and an insistence that I did, in fact,
want a full explanation as opposed to a 'nope,
this is how we do it' sort of brush off.
I was eventually diagnosed with a late relapse
of Hodgkin's lymphoma and started treatment.
I wouldn't say that things went without a hitch,
but I did not have to do a ton of extra emotional
work self-advocating for myself until I was
nearing the end of treatment. That last treatment
is always such a weird thing to stomach.
You know that you are so close to the end, but
you still have to make it through the treatment
and the following weeks of side effects. The rest
of your support system takes a sigh of relief, but
all the while, you know better. You know that
you will still feel nauseous, constipated, super
fatigued and everything else that having cancer
treatment causes. Balancing their compulsion
to mentally take you to the finish line right this
second with the reality that there is still a bunch
of ick in front of you is tough.
Once I finished treatment, one thing I heard
again and again from friends and family alike
was " I'm glad that's all behind you. " I seriously
heard it multiple times from well-meaning
people. I think what they must have meant
was " I'm so glad I don't have to worry about
this for you anymore " because I have to admit
that cancer was not something that felt
behind me after just a few months of being
done with treatment. In fact, cancer still felt
like something that ruled a huge space in my
brain and in my emotional day-to-day life. For
me, cancer was still controlling a whole slew
of important things-it changed my summer
travel schedule, it completely disrupted my desired
timeline for having a second child, and it
made me wonder if I would face cancer again.
To top it off, I was now 15 pounds heavier than
I had been when I started treatment, which
irked me. My body was physically recovering
from chemo, and I now had to play catch up
at work with my health insurance as I juggled
my last PET scan, port removal, doctors' appointments,
and more.
Now, to be fair, I work in cancer survivorship
support, and this was my second diagnosis and
subsequent cancer treatment. This wasn't my
first rodeo. I knew that this cancer experience
would continue to affect me and the way I interact
with the world for the foreseeable future.
Still, I had these voices in my head saying " this
is all behind you " as I sat in my last oncology
appointment before going to follow-up visits
every three months. These voices tried to push
the notion that I was done, that once my body
had physically recovered in a few months there
was no reason to fret any longer. I knew this
wasn't going to be quite so easy.
Since finishing treatments for my first round
" Are you
struggling to
be your own
advocate?
Know that you
are not alone.
Understand
that the
provider has
heard all of
this before,
and that you
deserve your
issue to be
resolved and
your question
to be answered.
You can show
up for yourself
and make it
happen. "
with Hodgkin's lymphoma 10 years ago, I
have been a bit of an anxious person. Having
cancer the first time made me frightened of
all of the other scary possibilities that exist
in the world as a human. When cancer struck
a second time, during my second treatment,
my oncology nurse practitioner asked if I was
having any anxiety or having trouble sleeping,
I quickly said " yes " to both. She prescribed a
very low dose medication that I started taking
at night to help me sleep. Do you want to know
what else it did? It made me less of an anxious
passenger in cars and it stopped some of the
anxious spiraling my brain did on a frequent
basis. The medication not only helped me sleep
through the night, but it also made me realize
that I had some untreated anxiety affecting
other aspects of my life as well. Having cancer
a second time made me realize that I could be
courageous and speak up about the areas in
my life where I was having trouble.
Regardless of how vocal I am about receiving
proper mental health support, I was nervous
to ask for it for myself. I felt uneasy asking
for what I needed even though I knew that
I deserved every bit of help required. I even
knew that the issues I was encountering were
not unique to me. Lots of young adult cancer
survivors experience anxiety during and after
treatment. When treatment ended and I saw
the oncologist one more time before starting
periodic follow-up visits, I summed up all of
my courage, talked about how the medication
was affecting me, and asked if she might have
a suggestion for a therapist I could start seeing.
My oncologist did not bat an eye. She immediately
found a slip of paper and wrote down the
therapist she recommends to all of her patients.
Are you struggling to be your own advocate?
Know that you are not alone. Understand that
the provider has heard all of this before, and
that you deserve your issue to be resolved and
your question to be answered. You can show up
for yourself and make it happen. Plus, there's
a whole generation of young adult cancer survivors
who have your back. l
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HODGKIN LYMPHOMA ISSUE 2021
5
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Elephants and Tea: Hodgkin Lymphoma Issue 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Elephants and Tea: Hodgkin Lymphoma Issue 2021

Contents
Elephants and Tea: Hodgkin Lymphoma Issue 2021 - Cover1
Elephants and Tea: Hodgkin Lymphoma Issue 2021 - Cover2
Elephants and Tea: Hodgkin Lymphoma Issue 2021 - 1
Elephants and Tea: Hodgkin Lymphoma Issue 2021 - Contents
Elephants and Tea: Hodgkin Lymphoma Issue 2021 - 3
Elephants and Tea: Hodgkin Lymphoma Issue 2021 - 4
Elephants and Tea: Hodgkin Lymphoma Issue 2021 - 5
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Elephants and Tea: Hodgkin Lymphoma Issue 2021 - Cover3
Elephants and Tea: Hodgkin Lymphoma Issue 2021 - Cover4
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