I decided to start this blog after a long time of battling whether to go public with my story or not. I am generally a very private person, even to my close friends and family at times, I just keep things to myself and have always been that way since I was a kid. But, finally I decided that if I can help even just one person by being open with my recent experience, the same way so many other people had helped me with their stories, I would do it. So here we go....
Let's rewind to February, 2016 about 10 months ago. Life was sunny and exciting. For the first time in a while, I had that "on top of the world" feeling. I had scored the ultimate job in London which I had my eye on for years with my old and favorite company, saved a very decent amount of cash for my move, just had been to one of the most beautiful wedding of my friends' in Sweden and was ready to take two months off of work for the first time ever! I had been working pretty much non-stop since the age of 13, so taking time off was a big deal for me. I had a great life in NYC, amazing friends, loving family, the best dog ever, but was ready to "slow down" the pace a little and move back to Europe where the culture seemed to honor a much more "work to live not live to work" mentality which was very much the opposite of what I had experienced in NYC. I was 32 and had been working in the hospitality industry for a very long time, but the past 8 years since graduating university had been especially exhilarating, but stressful. with non-stop openings, tough projects and a roller coaster of a life both professionally and personally. So to say that I was excited about the upcoming time off and move, would be a massive understatement.
Although I was feeling very healthy other than a pesky cough that wouldn't go away (it was a New York winter after all) I was considering to save even more money and go off of health insurance for the next two months...I was on a roll, right? My plan was working, right? WRONG.
Here is how life and fate fuck with you when you least expect it like nobody's business: Before making that fateful decision to potentially cancel my insurance, one morning in the gym, I noticed a small amount of swelling above my left collarbone. Thinking I had just carried one too many heavy purses, garment bags during February fashion week, my laptop or my dog on that side, I just popped an Advil (Ibuprofen) expecting it to go away. It didn't. The swelling didn't hurt, so I didn't think anything of it. Even though everyone I showed my collarbone to told me they were sure it was nothing, my gut instinct told me differently. I made an appointment with my GP and even over the phone I was apologetic to the nurse telling her I am probably being a hypochondriac and I am sure it is nothing so I hate to waste the doctor's time. I got to the Doctor's office that morning, my Doctor was too busy to even see me...again, no biggie because this was nothing anyway, so it was just the Nurse and me. I will never forget the moment when I showed her my collarbone, she took one look and suggested we take blood and that I get an ultrasound done. "But it's nothing right?" I ask....the look on her face sent chills down my spine. She said that the fact that the swollen area does NOT hurt, is what worried her. HUH? How does that make sense? Randomly my good friend who unfortunately has a lot of experience in the cancer world, said the same thing....if it doesn't hurt, it could be more serious. The next 48 hours are a blur. That Friday morning my GP called me and said that the ultrasound was suspicious and he wanted me to see a surgeon at NYU, Dr. Mark DeLacure as soon as possible. That was the first time I had heard the word "Lymphoma" spoken by my Doctor. He told me. "Whatever you do, do not google Lymphoma until we know more".......uh, fuck you! And of course that is exactly how I spent the next 24 hours non-stop between crying uncontrollably and getting lost in the crazy google-intranet world of information overload...learning that Lymphoma is indeed CANCER. I was numb and lost. This was NOT a part of my plan.