“In 2020, I decided it was time to get out of Toronto for a bit and I went to stay with my parents up in North Bay. But over the course of that summer, I developed a cough that just wouldn’t go away and started having difficulty sleeping. I tried to put it down to work stress, but my mom convinced me to go to the ER. It turned out I had an 11-centimetre tumour in my chest crushing my windpipe. It was a highly-aggressive lymphoma. From that moment on, everything else in my life just fell away while I focused on staying alive. I was 32 years old.
After the shock wore off, I’ve tried to keep the semblance of a normal life as much as possible during cancer treatment in the midst of a pandemic. I have this violin from Ireland that I received from my grandfather before he passed. I’ve stuck with my fiddle lessons at the Royal Conservatory of Music and meet regularly with my practice group. I’m also still doing Skype calls with my friends in Toronto.
More than anything, though, it’s been my mom who is my rock. She understands what I’m going through, not only as a mother, but as a blood cancer patient herself. She’d been diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2013, so she’s able to provide a degree of support and empathy that nobody else could. And having seen her go through it all, staying so positive as she lost her hair and underwent treatment, gave me the confidence that I’m going to get through it as well.
I’m really looking forward to getting back to normal, back to work, back to my social life, and back to my own apartment. But lymphoma has given me a new perspective on life and mortality, and it’s certainly brought us closer as a family.”
– Brittany, diffuse large B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
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