As a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma patient I can testify that getting a diagnosis can be a real challenge. Lymphoma is sneaky and it likes to hide behind a number of other perfectly reasonable explanations. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma symptoms can typically be characterized as*:
- Painless lump in the neck, armpits or groin that may become painful after drinking alcohol
- Itching skin
- Loss of appetite
- “B symptoms”
- Night sweats
- Fever with no infection
- Unintended/ inexplicable weight loss
In my case I visited my GP at the beginning of 2020 as I was feeling run down. At the time I was working away from home 2-3 weeks out of 4 and under a lot of stress at work – there were so many normal explanations for why I might be feeling run down. After checking the usual suspects (thyroid function, cortisol, iron, Vit-D) and the results coming back within the normal ranges, I thought it was just me having issues dealing with the stress and took myself off to the psychologist to deal with that. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s possible this was the first early warning sign of my growing lymphomas before my body visibly raised the alarm bells by turning my arm blue.
Even after such a dramatic signal, getting a correct diagnosis was a frustrating tale of second opinions (see my earlier blog posts).
My experience shows the importance of listening to your body and seeking assistance – repeatedly, and from different healthcare providers if necessary – when you feel that something just isn’t right. No one knows your “normal” better than you do.