What is Hodgkin's Lymphoma? The Basics From A Survivor
Hi I'm just going to cover the basics of what Hodgkin's Lymphoma is. And I'm not a doctor, I'm just someone who has gone through this as I was diagnosed with it last year. And I thought it might be helpful for those who might have recently been diagnosed or for those who just want to learn more about what this disease is about. So in general, cancer refers to damaged cells that begin to replicate out of control and can spread and cause havoc in other parts of the body. And so the word lymphoma refers to a type of cancer, and that cancer starts in the lymphatic system. And there are two types of lymphoma cancers.
Hodgkin's and Non Hodgkin's. And in this video we're going to be focusing on the Hodgkin's Lymphoma. And the names Hodgkin's lymphoma or Hodgkin's disease refer to the exact same cancer. So you can use whatever one you prefer.
So what is the lymphatic system? In the lymphatic system, we have these things called lymphocytes, which are particular types of white blood cells which help us fight off infection. Lymphocytes protect our body against germs, bacteria, and viruses by creating antibodies or by attacking the cells directly. There are lymph nodes, so areas where lots of these fighter cells exist, at the base of our neck, in our chests, in our pelvises. And these nodes are connected by special vessels which kinda create a network across your entire body so that way you can fight off infections wherever the infection lies. When you get a sore throat or cold you might notice that the lymph nodes at the base of your neck might get inflamed or enlarged and they might hurt to touch and that's totally normal. An enlarged lymph node is not necessarily a sign of a big problem, but it is one of the symptoms of people who have Hodgkin's lymphoma so it is something to be checked out. So where does Hodgkin's lymphoma start? As the name suggests, and what we were just talking about, Hodgkin's lymphoma starts in the lymphatic system, in particular in those white blood cells - the lymphocytes. From one day these cells are doing their jobs fighting off infections, and then the next day something goes wrong and they start multiplying out of control.
It's kinda funny in an awful cruel way that these cells that normally are like really helpful and try to help us out end up kinda trying to kill us. People who have had Hodgkin's lymphoma often report feeling lumps in their neck or in their neck area or underneath their armpits. But sometimes there are no lumps evident. I had a large cancerous tumour that came from my neck but rather than coming out it went down into my ribcage and it was just cosying up next to my lungs. The doctors couldn't feel any external lumps and they couldn't believe that I had such a big tumour inside of me when they found it. So as I was saying before, the lymphatic system is a network of cells that goes across your entire body and even though for some people they might only have one lump that grows, but for other people they might have multiple lumps that grow in different lymph node areas and so that's not uncommon either.
And although researchers understand where this cancer starts, they don't actually know what the main cause of it is. It seems random. What are symptoms of Hodgkin's Lymphoma? Symptoms include: painless swelling or lumps growing in the lymph node areas - so around the neck, under the armpits, or in the groin area. Persistent fatigue, night sweats, fever and chills. Significant unexplained weight-loss, loss of appetite, itching, and pain in the lymph node areas after consuming alcohol.
Personally my main symptoms were itching. The bottom of my feet were just itchy all the time, it was awful and I couldn't sleep, and I was seeing a dermatologist. The dermatologist eventually referred me onto a normal doctor to check out my blood tests and thats how I ended up finding out that I had Hodgkin's lymphoma. I also had a cold - a persistent cold - that kept coming and going. And I also had a cough that wouldn't really go which I attribute to now the fact that my cancerous lump kept pushing onto my lungs and so that probably obstructed my breathing a bit and kept me coughing. What are the treatment options? Normally it's just chemotherapy and radiation therapy and sometimes stem cell transplant for more advanced cases.
Most patients will undergo a number of cycles of ABVD chemotherapy which I'm going to make a video just focusing on the basics of ABVD chemotherapy. Often patients who go through some cycles of ABVD chemo will also end up doing some radiation therapy at the end. There is also a new chemotherapy program called BEACOPP and I believe that program was originally created for those whose cancer's didn't respond to the ABVD chemotherapy.
So they're the basics. Even though getting diagnosed with cancer sucks all the time every time, Hodgkin's lymphoma is one of the "good" cancers if you can call a cancer good because it has really good curative rates and there's lots of treatment options. I was really scared when I first got diagnosed and I'm now on the other side and I'm cancer-free and hoping to keep it that way. This channel was made for me to process and document my experience through this all from diagnosis, chemo, and the aftermath. So feel free to watch any of my videos if you think it will help you too. Remember to consult your doctor if you have any concerns and/or research it yourself if you'd like to learn some more about it.
Thank you for watching and take care and I'll see you in the next video. Okay bye! [LAST VIDEO EXCERPT:] Which I guess is why I find YouTube still helpful so that way I can still process some of the things that have remained with me since I really feel like I processing more of what happened and the trauma of it now as opposed to when it was happening.
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