Living With Cancer
By Kyleen, age 16, Arizona
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
About a month ago, my boyfriend, Dillon K., was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma Disease. I'll first explain exactly what Hodgkin's is, and then tell you his story and the struggle he, myself, and his family are going through.
According to Wikipedia (see link for more), Hodgkin's Lymphoma, previously known as Hodgkin's disease, is a type of lymphoma, which is a type of cancer originating from white blood cells called lymphocytes. It was named after Thomas Hodgkin in 1832. Hodgkin's lymphoma is characterized by the orderly spread of disease from one lymph node group to another. Hodgkin's lymphoma may be treated with radiation therapy or chemotherapy. The choice of treatment depends on the age and gender of the patient and the stage of the disease. The disease occurrence shows two peaks: the first in young adulthood (age 15-35) and the second in those over 55 years old. The survival rate of this cancer is in the 90% range and that percentage increases the younger the patient is and the earlier it is caught. This percentage makes it one of the most curable of cancers. Patients who are able to be successfully treated and enter remission generally go on to live long lives.
Now that you know a little information about this disease I can tell you Dillon's story.
Dillon is 17 years old, lives in Arizona, goes to high school as a junior, and has 3 younger siblings. He lives a normal life. He gets up every morning, rides a school bus, goes to class, has gym, exercises, learns about life, and so on. He is like any other 17 year old male in America.
One thing he didn't know until recently is that he has Hodgkin's Lymphoma. On November 10th, 2009 he went into the hospital for his heart. He didn't even go in for the cancer. He arrived there and the Children's ER was shut down for two hours while everyone worked on him. Doctors told him that he was on the verge of a heart attack at any minute. The next day the doctors drained about two liters of fluid from around his heart. Imagine buying a two liter bottle of Coca-Cola and having all of it in a sack around your heart! His heart was in great danger, but luckily they were able to fix that with a quick drainage surgery.
With scans and biopsies being done to him the doctors then came to find out he had tumors throughout his chest and neck. They found small traces of it in his hip and vertebrae (spine). It had reached stage 4 (the most advanced stage, in which the lymphoma has entered one or more organs) by the time they got to it, which lowered his chances of cure, but his age and overall state of health increased it. He was in the hospital for about 11 days, having tests run and having the diagnosis finalized. Doctors prescribed 8 months of chemotherapy and 2 weeks of daily radiation therapy.
On November 17th he had his first chemo treatment. Chemo has taken a great deal of energy out of him and has made him greatly ill. Chemo is not something to take lightly. It takes a lot out of a person and is a difficult thing to deal with. He has gotten through a month of the therapy so far and we are headed into the second month. Radiation will follow. For those who don't know what radiation therapy is I'll give you a quick explanation. Imagine going to the beach, without the fun, of course, and leaving with a sunburn, then returning the next day to the beach and sunburning on top of the first one. He will be receiving sunburns daily for 2 weeks. Hopefully, according to the doctor's predictions, he will be cured within the time they believe it will take. He has an incredibly long road ahead of him but is taking it in stride.
Dillon's 17th Birthday - October 24, 2009
A few things I hope you all will take from this article: One, knowledge; two, a sense of what life is like for others in America and what they may be faced with; and three, an idea of the torture faced by others in this position. Please take away from this how lucky you are to not have to deal with this. Or, maybe you have a cancer you are going through. If you are facing something similar please don't feel alone. There are many others who feel as you feel. You have brothers and sisters out there for support. Some you haven't even met yet.
My advice, whether you are dealing with something similar or not, is to educate yourself. Know what life can present. Don't be caught by surprise with life's battles. No one is on the road of life alone. You can be there for someone who needs it and someone can be there for you. Show support to those who possibly have it worse than you do. You are not alone, please remember that.
If you would like to follow Dillon's story, please go to http://www.caringbridge.com/visit/dillonkinney. There are links to read a short version of this article and to photos of him other than the ones shown here, and links to leave him messages. He is not shy, if you would like to write to him and know what it's like straight from him. He is my inspiration to spread awareness. I'm sure it would mean a lot to hear from strangers who feel for him and those who are like him. Please show him support.
If you have someone you know who has a cancer they are living with, please send my wishes to them and tell them they are not alone. I love each person who is going through these difficulties. I feel for them, and will continue to have them in my thoughts.
Some are lucky enough to survive these diseases, while others fall to the illness. Rest in peace to those who have fallen and good luck to those battling a cancer right now. Thank you for reading his story and reading about this cancer. It means a lot to me, to him, and to others, to know you have taken the time for us. God bless.