We love getting to know new members of the You Can Connect community! Kimberly is a 20 year old survivor who was diagnosed with Lymphoma at 19, just before starting her second year of Uni. She shares, "No need to fret though, it hasn't changed me much; I'm still bubbly and as positive as ever!"
We asked her a few questions about her experience. Keep reading, and then send Kimberly a connection request here!
Kimberly, 20, Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Survivor
YCC: How did you find out about your diagnosis? Any signs or symptoms?
KL: After returning from a holiday over the Christmas & New years one year, there was a really strong heat wave in Sydney. I had shortness of breath just from walking a few metres or going up the stairs. At first, I just thought I was unfit from all the eating I'd done on my trip! I then tried using my asthma puffer to help, but it didn't do much. I went to my doctor and described the chest pains to her and she did a blood test on me. Later that day, she called and instructed me to go to my local hospital because my D-dimer levels were three times the average person!
YCC: Were you familiar with cancer prior to your diagnosis?
KL: In the hospital, they could tell from my x-rays & ultrasounds that something was off and a whole bunch of medical conditions I'd never heard of were listed as possibilities. After my biopsies, it was confirmed as Lymphoma & I'd never heard the word before!
YCC: What was the hardest part about being diagnosed with cancer as a 19 year old?
KL: I was diagnosed at 19, when I was about to start my second year of university studying a double degree in Commerce and Law. I had enrolled in all my units & even planned to go to the aquarium that week! My friends could see I was in hospital because of SnapMaps hahah! Messages came in, asking if I was ok and I told my close friends that I was still being diagnosed and everything was all a mystery, but they visited & supported me through the staging process. A few days after my cancer was pinpointed and diagnosed, I decided to make an Instagram post letting people know what was going on, to prevent random rumours/ guesses as to why I was in a hospital from spreading around! I then contacted my uni and decided to study externally with half the number of subjects and they were very accommodating.
YCC: Were you able to connect with anyone else your age with your diagnosis?
KL: The hospital I received treatment at didn't have a youth area, but I joined many groups on Facebook that were either youth cancer or lymphoma patients. I found them quite supportive and I went to a meet-up with other youth cancer patients/survivors and it was one of the best "blind social gatherings" I've been to! We all immediately clicked and connected, everyone was so funny and I found out about this website through them.
YCC: Were there any high points during your cancer experience/anything that you are grateful to have learned?
KL: I've always been a glass half full person, and that didn't change with treatment. If anything, this experience has allowed me to differentiate who my true friends are. It's also allowed me to appreciate family more, because they were with me 24/7 supporting me.
YCC: What would you tell another young adult who was just diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma?
KL: To other young adults diagnosed with NHL, I'd say survival rates are pretty good and don't have any expectations from treatment because everyone reacts differently. The most important thing is to keep a positive mindset and know that once you've finished you can feel such a great sense of accomplishment knowing that you've beaten cancer. If the ride gets tough at times, talk it out to a friend or social worker or find a distraction like learning an instrument or dancing! Just keep looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel!
YCC: What has life after cancer been like for you?
KL: Post-cancer life has been great! I wrote a list of all the things I wanted to do post-treatment and I'm ticking them all off at the moment. It's mainly stuff I usually did before, like going to the flea markets, concerts, laser tag, etc. but I added more "extra" things, like going rollerskating. Once you can go out and eat and do everything again, you appreciate life so much more!
Please check out my blog at this link!
Click here to connect with Kimberly.
Would you like to share your cancer experience with the YCC community? Send a message to YouCanHQ for the chance to be featured here!