My Diagnosis

May 13, 2013: Lump discovered

I'm not sure how I noticed it, but at some point I felt a lump on the left side of my neck.  I looked in the mirror and HOLY MOLY I could actually SEE a large lump in my neck!  Off to the internet I went... WebMD says it's probably an infection, but see your doctor if the swelling lasts more than a few weeks.
I know this picture is kinda creepy with my creepy eyes, but you can see the swelling in my neck (my left side).  It looks like my head is tilted to the side, but it's not.  This picture was taken about 2 weeks before my diagnosis.
May 18-26, 2013:  Celebrated my 2nd anniversary with my husband on an 8 day cruise.

It was awesome.  Lump didn't go away.

May 30, 2013: 1st Doctors Appointment

Doctor confirms it's probably just an infection and puts me on antibiotics for 10 days.  She also recommended an ultrasound since I have a history of thyroid issues.  

May 31, 2013: Ultrasound complete

Ultrasound shows the lymph node is severely enlarged and measuring 4.5 cm by 6 cm (which is apparently HUGE!).  Doctor wants to keep me on antibiotics and see if that does the trick.

June 11, 2013: 2nd Doctors Appointment

I admit... I procrastinated a tad in making this follow up appointment.  I was convinced the lymph node was getting smaller and wanted to give it a few more days.  My husband finally forced me to face the fact that it wasn't and the antibiotics weren't working.  Doctor recommends a CT scan.

June 20, 2013: CT Scan

For the record, CT scans are unpleasant.  Not the worst thing in the world but that contrast dye is not fun.  CT results came in a few days later and aren't conclusive other than showing the lymph node is the same size it was when the ultrasound was done.  Doctor recommends a biopsy.

June 28, 2013: Biopsy

For the record, a biopsy of your neck is also unpleasant.  I was being a "tough guy" and did it without any sedative - just local anesthetic... bad idea.  I could actually hear the needle being jammed through my neck muscle..... 4 times.  Eww.  Biopsy results come in after 10 grueling days.  Results are atypical, but not enough cells were extracted to get an accurate reading.  Doctor recommends removing the lymph node.

July 17, 2013: Surgery

I met with the surgeon and scheduled surgery.  The procedure was less than an hour long and I was in and out of the hospital in just a few hours.  The lymph node ended up being too large to remove, so they took a large chunk of it to be tested.  Overall I wasn't too sore and was back at work the next day.  Results can take 7-10 days, so more waiting......
After surgery with bandages still on.  Those bandages were the itchiest things in the world!
1 day after the itchy bandages came off.  Not bad, huh?
July 25, 2013: The Diagnosis

The nurse called me on July 23 and asked if I could come to the office to review my results.  I was out of town for work and couldn't make it back in time that day.  The doctor was out of the office the next day, so I had to wait until the 25th.  My husband Josh came with me and after the longest 2 days of my life, finally met with the doctor.  She informed me that I have Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  I should meet with the oncologist tomorrow and figure out where we go from here.  The doctor thinks I'm still in the early stages, which means my treatment should be easier and the prognosis for a full recovery is good.  I'm still trying to process everything, it still doesn't feel completely real.  But my spirits are high and my outlook is positive and I WILL beat this!


  1. Hi Melissa,
    Thank you so much for the email! You made my day! :) It makes me SO happy that my blog was able to help you in any way! And I think it is awesome that you started one of your own. It is such great therapy! Reading about your diagnosis brings back so many memories. Thank you for contacting me. :) I hope that you are doing well and staying strong! It's funny how things work out, I recently got into nursing school which is not what I was planning on doing prior to cancer. And I am hoping to work in oncology someday. :) Hugs to you!!

  2. hi my dad has been diagnosed last week and he is back in india and i am in LA. I have been trying to do a lot of research and yours is the first post which provided the info in an optimistic way, i know i am gonna have to let him go one of these days but i am not prepared to do it right now with this cancer, your post makes me believe i can help him beat this thing

    1. Thank you so much for the comment! I hope your father is doing well and that you are able to help him through this. Please let me know if I can help with anything!

  3. Hi Melissa - I am going in for my biopsy tomorrow (full lymph node removal surgery) and your blog has helped me understand what to expect and what I may have to expect in the future. Thanks for putting this together. Could I ask what Stage you were diagnosed with? I have a large lump in the same spot as yours, other side of the neck.

  4. Hi Merv! I was Stage I Classic Hodgkin's. thankfully (I guess), my tumor grew fast and it was in a place that was easily seen, so I had it checked out and diagnosed very early. Good luck tomorrow, I hope for the best for you. Please keep in touch and let me know if I can help in any way!

    1. Thanks Melissa. They told me immediately after that it is definitely cancer -- but they don't know what kind yet or what stage, etc... Still need to do the full battery of tissue tests. Will know more early next week. I did have multiple swollen lymph nodes, so I'm hopeful that it's still in Stage 2. I really enjoyed reading your blog. I am going to try to pull off something similar :)

    2. Merv, sorry to hear of the confirmed diagnosis. Hope you're early stage, too! I would love to follow along in your treatment, so please share your blog (if you want, of course)! Good luck and keep in touch!

  5. I have been dealing with a severely swollen neck. My labs are abnormal and unfortunelty I have to deal with military doctors and they are super slow. It has been 6 weeks and it seems to just be getting worse. I would love to talk to you about your experience and see what you think. I know it sounds crazy but I don't know where else to turn and I am kinda freaking out �� My email is if you get time. Thank you so much for sharing your story.