Four years ago, I celebrated New Year’s Eve with a lot of optimism. 2014 was going to be the year of my 50th birthday. Both of my daughters would be graduating. The previous work year had been the most successful of my career and I’d been awarded a trip to Maui. We were also going to Bruges for a break with good friends from university. At the end of August we were going on safari in Africa.
All of these things duly happened during the year. They were all brilliant, life-affirming experiences. But I hadn’t expected to have to cope with the death of my mother, shortly after my own lymphoma diagnosis. Both of these events came right out of the blue, from left field – you can choose your own cliché if you wish!
I was fortunate to be diagnosed early. I’d spotted a small lump on the side of my neck that was getting in the way of shaving. I mentioned it to Jane while we were in Maui. She encouraged me to book a GP appointment on my return and he immediately referred me to hospital. I was fully diagnosed by the time we went to Africa that summer.
Lymphoma is the fifth most common cancer type found in the UK, yet awareness of the symptoms is patchy, even amongst medical professionals. Fortunately, organisations like Lymphoma Action are working tirelessly to improve awareness, diagnosis and treatment. Their video talks about the potential signs of the disease.
If you’re worried that you may be experiencing some of these symptoms, please don’t delay seeking help.
Meanwhile, I’m still holding on after transplant. My blood counts continue to drop, I’m unreasonably fatigued, but so far I’m not experiencing too many nasty side effects from the last week. I hope it continues like that for the next few days.