To be honest, I usually do not like writing about myself or about my cancer… So I usually don’t. I feel like updating people on my “cancer status” is WEIRD. Simply because I never thought I would have to do it. But due to Angela’s Army and the amazing following of people who support my story and cause definitely DO deserve a “status update” on my cancer.
For a quick backstory, if you are new here (I sound like a YouTuber), I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a week after I graduated college in 2019. I had a large visible tumor on my left collar bone, and various other tumors throughout my chest and neck. I endured 6 rounds of chemotherapy (12 chemo sessions) at Dana Farber located in Boston, MA.
My travel into Boston with my parents, Debbie and Steve, every other Friday were some I will never forget. Them being unforgettable simply due to the fact my mom hates my dad’s driving, so there were some expletives said from the passenger seat. Besides the point, I finished chemotherapy in November 2019 with hopes that in two months during my next PET scan no other signs of cancer would be detected.
Come January of 2020, I am working a retail job at Lululemon, to get back up on my feet to find some sense of normalcy. Anticipating my PET scan at the end of the month, I would only hope good thoughts that nothing was wrong and I would get to be a normal 23 year old. Any of the bad thoughts, I pushed away. The day finally came in late January, I fasted for my scan, got blood work done, had my scan and waited about 3 hours to see my oncologist to hear whether or not I would be in remission.
Waiting in the white and cold patient room of DF, I had no clue what to expect other than hoping I would enter a state of remission from my cancer.
My doctor has one of those approaches where you cannot tell if she is going to tell you bad or good news. Which can be a good or a bad thing depending on your style. I personally liked it that way so I never got my hopes up.
She walked in and kind of shrugged her shoulders and said that more “spots” appeared on my scans SO I HAD TO GET ANOTHER SCAN… in three months. No sign of remission.
March approaches, as does the pandemic, and I have to get another PET scan in the summer time. Being quarantined and awaiting a PET scan whilst living with your parents at the ripe age of 23 after spending 6 years away in boarding school then in college was AN EXPERIENCE, to say the least.
My mind during those times would not even think about the potential cancer still living amongst my body, because I was consumed with TikTok and all of the DIY at home trends everyone was crazy about, tie dye being one of them.
JK there were other things too big in the world for me to worry about other than myself, which felt nice in a weird way. It alleviated some of the pressure on me feeling like I was the only sick one, and this strayed me away from thinking about my unknown path with cancer.
During this time I had a new full time job (that I hated more than words can describe), was growing back my hair, getting back into shape as I once was, and was in hopes that I would not have to ever endure cancer treatments again. I began to feel somewhat more normal.
My wait for the next scan began.
August 2020 rolls around and I go in to get another scan, in hopes that it’s a clean one, once and for all.
I walk in but this time is different since everyone has masks on, no family and or friends allowed into the building so all I see is patients who are sick, alone, and waiting for chemo or their appointments. It was an eerie space, and all I wanted to do was leave.
I get my scan and wait for my doctor again, this time with different news.
On my scan, the radiologist had found a mass of tissue growing in between my sternum and chest area. There was some fancy medical term for the “rare” condition that I cannot remember, but I thought “Well fuck me, here we go again”.
6 more rounds of chemo, most likely radiation, and stem cell transplant would be my treatment plan if this mass continued to show up in scans. NO THANK YOU. I am out, it is a NO from me.
But in true Angela fashion, I nodded my head and said “Yeah, I can do that”.
My doctor asked if I could come in a few days later to get scanned again. Obviously I said yes because I have too.
I went back in a few days later and got scanned to see if this inflammation or growth was still there.
BUT there were still some sketchy spots that we could not detect whether they were cancer or not.
So I waited for another 3 months to get another scan. SAME OLD STORY.
3 months later, this happens again. And again. I was getting so sick and tired of this cyclical game of the unknown. Do I have cancer, do I not? What do I do? How do I move on and grow from this part of my life? It was a daunting feeling. Am I going to always be the “sick girl”.
I had an apartment with my 3 friends, a new boyfriend, a new job at a boarding school, so it finally felt like everything in my life was going the right way, just not the most important…my health.
Until May 7th 2021.
I went in and got my scan, knowing that in “3 more months we will have to scan you again to make sure nothing has grown and we do not have to diagnose you again” would be what my doctor would tell me after I completed my scans. Reluctantly, I laid down in the PET scan machine for the cold and lonely 20 minutes, did not move a single muscle, and prayed to myself that this would be the last.
Little did I know, it was.
I left Dana Farber and got a phone call at my apartment where I live in Boston. The phone call was from my oncologist, who told me I did not need any more scans.
“Your scans were clean, you do not need to come in again to get another PET scan” to which I replied “wait so that means the cancer is gone?”
“Yes Angela, the cancer is gone, it is time you finally get to celebrate”
I finally cried cause I finally did the damn thing.
No more worrying, no more worrying that I would lose all my hair again, go through chemo and be sick 24/7, move out of my apartment, have to end my new position at the school I work for, none of that.
I felt pure bliss. For the first time in a long time.
So here is the update:
I now will only have to go into Dana Farber the month of August to get a CT scan and a regular check up with my doctor. I will have to get a screening done in 6 months after my CT scan to make sure everything is still gone, and go on check ups with my doctor every 6 months. In November 2021 I will be truly considered cancer free as I will be two years out of my cancer.
For me the most beautiful thing is I get to continue working in the field I want to grow within, I get to continue coaching sports, grow back my long brown hair that I lost, keep living on my own in Boston, and be another normal 24 year old in this world trying to be their own individual.
I have gotten to learn at a young age that life is sweet and simple but sour and complicated all at the same time, but in my mind my life will forever be that much sweeter for these sour moments I have had.
Thank you all for always following my journey and the others who are battling cancer.