Winter Racine, 16

Hodgkin's Lymphoma

"The diagnosis of cancer felt like a new beginning in the most hurtful way."

Being told that I was "faking" my symptoms

On May 13, 2017 I was diagnosed with stage three Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancer of the lymphatic system. I was only fifteen. It had been years of unanswered questions, being told that I was faking my pain and illness. Years summed with truancy meetings, doctor visits every other week, excruciating back pain. The diagnosis of cancer felt like a new beginning in the most hurtful way. I was at a lost for words, unaware of how difficult this battle for my life would be.

 

Horrendous side effects of chemotherapy

My first dose of chemotherapy happened so quickly. I tried to sleep off the most painful headache I had ever felt, only to be woken up by seeing stars. My body felt like it was on fire, tingling and warm to the touch. I passed out, threw up, we had to stop until I was able to pull myself together again. That was when I first understood how painful this was going to be. I spent the entire summer being poisoned in attempt to get rid of posion. On the days they would try and send me home after outpatient, I would only end up back within an hour.

 

New experiences

There were many firsts. When I first noticed the hair loss, I sat in the hospital bed pulling it out, crying as I watched it fall into my hands. The first time I realized that I was no longer hungry, even the smell of food making me sick. My first outpatient chemotherapy I went into the bedroom with another terrible headache. I couldn’t sleep, I knew something was wrong. I had a fever of 103.3. I was dizzy, throwing up, my body couldn’t take it. Everything I loved was being taken away from me. I spent nights and days in an uncomfortable bed, I lost my ability to walk straight. I went in weighting 150 pounds and left at 103. I was dying while slowly beginning to give up on myself. There were times when I refused chemotherapy because I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t take the mouth sores, the stomach pain, throwing up all night. I couldn’t take the morphine withdrawal, the hot flashes that it gave me. I spent nights on the hospital shower floor, crying out in pain both physical and mental.

It was extremely difficult, but I did it. I am proud to say that I did it. I kicked cancer back harder than it kicked me and I won. I am a cancer survivor.