Hello, my name is Jacqueline, aka Jaq.
Former cancer patient. Now a cancer survivor.
I’m a Illinois native working and residing in Chicago. On August 25, 2016 I was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma. This day has forever changed everything. Here's my story.
To start, I'm a totally foodie. I live to eat not the other way around. The reason I bring this up is that this adventure that I'm on started with a few good bites to eat. It was mid July and I had joined a friend for dinner. We ate all the things... foie gras, sweetbreads, venison, yada yada! It was this evening that set everything off. This might be the freakiest part for me. I woke up in the middle of the night with the most excruciating stomach pains. Couldn't shake it. I thought this was my body yelling at me for mixing all the rich food. The next morning I went to teach class like normal but was doubled over in pain. Even once I got into the office it was not letting up. At this point I called my doc thinking maybe it was an ovarian cyst or appendicitis. My insurance wasn't super awesome at the time so I was trying to avoid an ER visit plus bill. After a few days of "troubleshooting" I caved and went to Urgent Care. I immediately had an MRI. The scan came out a bit abnormal but nothing to flag so we continued to check off boxes like kidney stones, gallbladder and muscle strains. MRI let to a CT Scan, led to an ultrasound, which led me to a GI specialist. At this point we're in mid August so almost a month had passed.
So, this GI guy says let's do a biopsy just to continue checking off boxes. I will never forget the phone call to follow up. I was sitting on the Blueline headed to O'Hare at 8am on Thursday August 25 to meet my friends in Scottsdale. My phone rings, I answer. Doc says "Can you talk? I got your results back". To which I respond, "I'm on the train but I can listen". He so non-chalantly blurts out "you have Lymphoma", followed by a bunch of other words I totally missed and then tells me an Oncologist will be in touch next week. He literally leaves me with no stage, type or any other info. That weekend I actually thought I was dying. Sobbed at the pool and at the spa that my years were limited. Doctors, huh? Where's the bedside manner and tact?
Anyways, apparently follicular lymphoma is quite common so I was put on a watch and wait plan. At this point they said they might not have to treat it for years even decades. So I whisk off to Europe for a few weeks. I come back for a check up and follow up biopsy. This is where everything changes. My PET Scan had some abnormal coloring and size lymphnoids. From this test I now know I will have to go through chemo but it was only supposed to be for one day a month and I wouldn't lose my hair etc. A few more days pass and we're waiting to find out if I either have A or B cell (B is bad) and MYC + or - (+ is bad). It's a Friday and I'm at happy hour, shocking I know, and I get the call. Worst case scenario. I have what they call double hit Lymphoma. Follicular plus B Cell MYC +. Bam! I entered the hospital Monday for my first round of aggressive chemo. And that's how my story begins.
I'm not here to preach or complain, anyone who knows me knows that's not my style. I love life, sick or not. However, my cancer is environmental not hereditary, and if by reading this blog you make a few more conscious choices about what you put in, on or around you're body then I have succeeded. Your body is truly your temple, treat it right.
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