Lymphoma: What To Expect

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On December 16, my life changed forever. I was in my third semester of college and had just finished my last final exam. Having studied all night, I headed to the university game room to shoot some pool and relax. After a few games I felt painful spasms in my neck and shoulder. At first I thought it was a “pinched” nerve, and I tried to ignore it, but the pain just got worse. I wanted to go home, but I had promised my girlfriend we would meet. As I walked to her building the pain shifted to my chest and I grew short of breath. I remember sitting out on the steps, waiting, and thinking, “What the hell is going on?” Never had I experienced such fear. I thought I would die. Shari and I had been dating for only a month, and I did not want to alarm her. So when she appeared, I said nothing. She, her girlfriend, and I walked over to the cafeteria for lunch. I sat there quietly wearing my best poker face. No one suspected anything. After lunch, the girls left to go to their next exam and I went home. Looking back, I should have asked for help, but I did not. It took me over forty minutes to walk to my car. With each step, the pain was more crippling. I felt like an elderly man inching along with a walker. Foolishly, I drove myself home. I was nineteen years old, but never in my life did I need my mother more. When I walked in the door my younger brothers and sister were there, but mom wasn’t. I collapsed on the couch, but before I could explain mom arrived home. She could hear the desperation in my voice as I told her, “Mom, I have to go to the hospital, something is wrong!” and explained what was happening. She rushed me to the Emergency Room where we waited in the lobby for hours. The nurses had already performed their initial assessment. They thought maybe I had a chest cold or perhaps sprained the muscles in my sternum. They wanted to take an x-ray, but I had to wait. Mom was worried about my brothers and sister being alone. My stepfather had met us at the hospital, so he stayed with me while she went home to care for them.

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