A Bump in the Road

My name is Jennifer, I am 20 years old. 2018 was a big year for me. I finished my studies, graduated as a nurse, and two days after my final exam headed off overseas for 3 months to celebrate, tired but excited.

I was also diagnosed with cancer – Hodgkin’s Lymphoma to be exact.  

After two weeks of travel, a large lump appeared on my neck. My aunt, who I was visiting, took to me to their doctor as I was heading to Greece, Portugal, and Morocco the following week. I was feeling a little run down from all the studying, but I didn’t feel sick.

Waiting for appointments, travelling to hospital for tests, more waiting for results. I was anxious and toey. My mum, who is a nurse, rang from Australia and asked the doctor if she should travel to Ireland to be with me for the test results.

“I would,” he said.

D-day comes we we’re and off to Dublin to get what I thought would be the ‘all clear’ to resume my holiday, only to be told that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma … whatever that is. I guess my newly printed nursing certificate didn’t cover everything.

Up until then, I thought the waiting was the worst thing in the world, but I was wrong.

There’s a certain six-letter word that begins with ‘can’ and ends with ‘cer’ that is way worse. The mere mention of it stops people in their tracks and makes them reflect upon everything that’s gone before. Every possible outcome is contemplated … starting with the worst. But enough of that.

It was time to go home, start my treatment, and get rid of this “bump in the road” (or lump in my neck, to be more accurate).

So back to Melbourne we came, and back to Cabrini Hospital. I say back to Cabrini because one of my jobs while studying was working there as a unit receptionist. Oh, the irony, from a receptionist, to nurse, to a patientThankfully, my doctor was amazing and explained every step of treatment so clearly.

There was an upside to this drama – my mum and dad couldn’t say no to a new dog. We rescued a 10-week old kelpie cross, named Isla. But five days later, she came very unwell and didn’t recover.

The vet couldn’t work out what was wrong and to contemplate putting her down. It felt like the worst day ever. But, I was wrong. I phoned again in the morning to be told that she had died overnight. That was the worst day of the worst week. Someone told me that Isla was sent to me to transfer and take away my pain and sorrow. I like that.

I was determined to lose my hair on my own terms. The thought of losing it during treatment was traumatic.

So, I set up a fundraising page to raise money for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF). I asked my friends to come and share the “big day” with me. We had some drinks, some food and lots of laughs. It was very comforting to hear your friends say, “Wow Jen, you look good… no, you really do!”. Even I believed it in the end!

My brother Tom let me cut his hair off also in support and solidarity.

I am still undergoing chemotherapy and have some radiation to go through but Rob, my doctor, has given me some great news: the cancer is gone, and I can skip my last chemo cycle – woohoo!

I was lucky enough to also get a new kelpie puppy, named Gigi. Gigi keeps me busy – she’s a whole new world of trouble!

I want to thank everyone for their support, and best wishes.

Love, Jennifer