Jeremie Estegassy is a Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Survivor. He finished his last treatment in 2019, and now he is on his road to remission.
I started losing weight drastically
I started to lose substantial weight, had night sweats, and had no energy for basic daily activities like taking a shower or standing for long periods. But the rapid weight loss is what alarmed me, along with a nodule in the neck. My doctor suspected lymphoma and referred me to a specialist. The news of a potential cancer diagnosis left me scared and confused. After doing some research, I realized that I had been experiencing many of the symptoms of lymphoma, which I ignored.; I just didn’t feel like myself. It was pretty frightening. The results of my biopsy came back positive for lymphoma.
Diagnosis was shocking
I will never forget the day I received the news. My oncologist said that I had Hodgkin lymphoma, and all I could say was, “Can I survive this? If so, I’m ready to do what it takes.” Thus began my lymphoma journey.I literally thought that I was going to die and that the diagnosis was a death sentence. I remember sitting in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, thinking I was either going to walk out of there smiling, knowing that the enlarged lymph node that I had discovered on my neck was a false alarm; or I was going to walk out of there knowing that my world had just been completely turned upside down.
After my doctor confirmed my diagnosis, I met with my oncologist who scheduled me for a positron emission tomography (PET) scan to determine if the lymphoma had spread. The appointment was a blur after I heard the oncologist say the words, “Stage 3”. All of the sudden I felt as if everything was moving at the speed of light, but I was standing still.
The following week was a whirlwind of appointments with different experts for treatment. Within the next week, I had my port placed and began chemotherapy. I was put on a regimen of 12 rounds of chemotherapy, which would be followed by radiation therapy.
Love your caregivers
Love, love, love your caregivers. I can not stress this enough. I will forever be indebted to my wonderful nurses and full healthcare staff – these individuals brightened my toughest of days and ultimately helped to save my life. Especially love the caregivers from your personal life. My friends and family were an absolute rock during all of this. They were always there for me every step of the way and kept me moving forward.
Take help from others
Ask for and graciously accept help along the way. Fighting lymphoma is a long and difficult journey with many ups and downs. Some days you feel strong, maybe buoyed by high-dose medicines. You can be independent and take care of everything yourself. Some days you may feel weak and might need help with basic functions.
Having a good support system and keeping a positive mental attitude is essential. Just as vital is proper nutrition and exercise. I tried to work-out every day, even if it was only a forced 5 to 10 minutes on a treadmill. I have also discovered that life can be brighter and more manageable if we have something to look forward to. When I was feeling particularly wretched during my post-treatment recovery, I meditated, listened to great music, and spent time with friends and family.
I had to make huge changes in my life. I have increased fluid intake, fruits and vegetables in my diet. I eat bananas. I loved spicy food very much but I have stopped eating. I keep myself away from fast food. I try to eat organic food as much as possible.
Message for others
Try to take things a day at a time as you navigate through treatment. Look for positive distractions to help you through rough patches you encounter along the way and never give up hope. Presently, I am still cancer-free, feel terrific, and remain hopeful for the future. However, I am ever-mindful that life is both fragile and incredibly short and circumstances can change as quickly as they have in the past. If you are a lymphoma patient like me, here is a final thought: Try to take things a day at a time as you navigate through treatment. Look for positive distractions to help you through rough patches you encounter along the way and never give up hope.
Faith and prayers
With my faith and prayer to support me, I realized I was going through this journey for a reason. Today, I am able to give hope and encourage others to fight and to never give up. Having Hodgkin lymphoma has changed my life for the better. Back then, I thought, “This is bad. I’m hurting. I’m sick.
Cancer can change my body but not soul
Going through cancer upends everything and pushes you to realize the only thing you can truly control, which is how you live your life, even as you face the fear of dying. I focused on maintaining joyfulness, remaining thankful, and being loving and generous to those around me. Cancer could change my body, but I wouldn’t let it steal my soul.