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Sukirti Katiyar (Hodgkin's Lymphoma and Acute Myeloid Leukemia)

Sukirti Katiyar (Hodgkin's Lymphoma and Acute Myeloid Leukemia)

Hodgkins Lymphoma Diagnosis

The first red flag was that I quickly started getting tired when I was 14. As I was obese then, I thought that was the reason for the excessive fatigue and didn't give much heed to it. Then, one day, I noticed a weird lump near my collarbone, and I was excited about it because my friend had recently had tonsils surgery, and she had got to eat ice cream later. So, I also thought I would get ice creams because of this new lump. But it was only when I was taught about the human throat that I discovered the lump was not growing where the tonsils were supposed to be. Therefore, I went to a local doctor with my parents and was diagnosed with mumps. But after some months, I developed a weird coughing fit that always ended with nausea or fever. We decided to go to a multi-specialty hospital, and after a biopsy, I was diagnosed with tuberculosis. And the weird part was that the doctor didn't listen to me. This is a significant issue throughout India; the doctors think they have identified the disease and stop listening to what the patient has to say. So, I was put on medication for tuberculosis, which had severe side effects. They also didn't advise me on what to do when these side effects affect me. The medicines also didn't affect my condition, so we went to AIMS like every other Indian family.

By the time we went to AIMS, at least six months had passed after the first symptoms. It was only at AIMS that they discussed the possibility of having cancer. We then went to a private hospital, where they finally diagnosed me with stage 3B Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I suffered from this lymphoma for almost eight months before they could correctly diagnose me.

Honestly, I was relieved at the diagnosis because they had finally found a reason for all my difficulties. However, my family and relatives were shocked and scared by my lymphoma diagnosis. Our family didn't have any history of cancer, and my getting diagnosed with one at 14 was certainly more than they could handle. Childhood cancer is genetic, so I/we could have done nothing to prevent it.

Hodgkin's Lymphoma Treatment

After getting diagnosed with Lymphoma, I was immediately put on chemotherapy. The doctors initially decided to go with four sittings of brutal Chemotherapy, followed by four light chemotherapy. But I ended up with nine cycles of brutal chemotherapy and 17 sittings of radiation, too.

People started seeing me as if I had already died as the word got around. People visited me to show that they had done their sympathy quota. Once the chemotherapy started, its side effects also followed suit. But the good thing was that they had aftercare, and they used to pertain to all my needs and side effects immediately. If I felt nauseated, they provided medicines for that, and if my platelets were down, they immediately gave me an aPlateletinfusion set. Lymphoma treatment went on for almost a year, and the part I had difficulty getting used to the most was the isolation. While peers my age were attending school, I was isolated from the outside world and people and had to drop a year at school. I started losing my hair, which was hard for my mother and father. I was okay with my hair loss. I no longer had to take care of it.

I also reconnected with my old friends, and they reached out to me. I am grateful because you need people when you are going through this. More than sympathy, you need compassion and empathy. I was lucky to have a great support system during my first cancer.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Diagnosis

I had successfully finished the lymphoma treatment and started going to school when I felt nauseated one day after returning home from school. I smelled something terrible when the Nausea didn't recede even after 20 days, along with an upset stomach and period difficulties. I reconnected with my old doctor, who told me to return to Delhi. After many tests and scans, I discovered I had Acute myeloid leukemia. So, I was diagnosed with the second cancer in my life, Acute Myeloid Leukemia, at 16. This time, the leukemia diagnosis hit me like a ton of bricks. I was shocked because I had thought that my cancer journey was over.

During my first Hodgkin'sLymphomajourney, I didn't even cry once and was motivated to defeat the cancer. But during my second cancer treatment, all I ever did was cry. Leukemia was very hard for me, and I preferred crying over talking to others who came to support and assist me.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment

I needed a Bone Marrow Transplant since the treatment from the theLymphomahad suppressed my bone marrow to such an extent that I needed a BMT. I needed a donor, and my brother, who was 11, donated his bone marrow for me. The treatment for leukemia was very different, and I didn't have the regular chemotherapy but had a BMT done. A BMT wipes out all your cells' memory, and you start afresh. But due to it, my immune system has become very weak, forcing me to stay indoors now. After the BMT, I was in a hospital room in a small room with no visitors for six months. This one was so much harder for me than my first cancer.

The second or last cancer, as I should say it, molded me a lot in life. The main person who pulled me through everything was my mother, who was my primary caregiver.

When I had finished the treatment for Lymphoma, I was elated and celebrated it, but when I completed the leukemia treatment, I was like, okay, this is good, but I'm not going to celebrate this. Still, I was super happy inside to have finally defeated leukemia.

Lifestyle after Cancer

Before cancer, my lifestyle was standard, with a mix of home-cooked and junk food. During cancer, I was put on a protein-rich neutropenic diet with paneer, egg, chicken, rice, etc. But my diet right now is not good and includes Subway, junk food, and homecooked food.


My mother was my primary caregiver, and I believe it was harder for her to see her daughter undergo cancer twice. I think patients should hug the caregivers occasionally and let them know they are thankful for all the help they are doing for them.

Lessons Learned from Cancer

I am super grateful to be alive and wake up every single day. I am happy to socialize with my friends, take my dog for a walk, and do everything. I'm just doing what I used to dream about in the hospital; therefore, I'm just living my dream right now.

Parting Message

I think people should lose their preconceived notions about cancer. Pop culture, including cinemas, shows cancer as a synonym for death. But now, cancer is 70-80% curable. Therefore, we should take it as a typical disease. We should surround ourselves with people whom we like and feel comfortable with.

Also, when you connect with people who have already gone through what you have gone through, you will feel a little less alone.

We should treat people with kindness. Reach out to cancer patients and be there for them rather than telling them that cancer is enormous and hard to defeat.

The patients should try to distract themselves from the disease by watching movies, Netflix, music, or friends.

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