people with a physically demanding profession, Brisbane student nurse Rosie MacLeod (above, with boyfriend Patrick) initially assumed her sore neck was a result of just another day on the job.
She went to
her doctor thinking the golf ball-sized lump in her neck was simply a pulled
muscle that could be massaged out.
“I had also
been losing my voice and feeling really tired, but didn’t think it was all
connected,” the 21-year-old said.
Her GP sent
her for an ultrasound instead, which showed a tumour running down her sternum.
Last year, after
an open neck surgical biopsy, she was diagnosed with lymphoma, although doctors
initially couldn’t figure out what type.
couldn’t work out whether it was Hodgkin’s or non-Hodgkin’s, which lead to gray
zone lymphoma,” Rosie said.
lymphoma is a very rare and aggressive lymphoma that has features of both
B-cell lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
really reluctant to start a treatment plan for me, so I was referred to a
specialist,” Rosie said.
haematologist Dr Ashish Misra prescribed a unique and intense treatment gray
zone lymphoma regimen for Rosie.
“It was five
types of drugs for five days, with a 24 hour infusion via a pump that was
attached to me.
“I’d have a
two week break then it would all start again,” Rosie said.
Rosie went through six months of chemotherapy and one month of radiation.
“I lost my
hair, had bone pain and bad mouth ulcers. Luckily I didn’t have any nausea,” Rosie
Leukaemia Foundation support
into her chemotherapy regimen, Rosie started the Leukaemia Foundation’s Fit to
Thrive exercise program.
“I found it
really helpful with my fatigue, and the routine also really helped to motivate
“It was also
nice hanging out with people who understood what I was going through,” Rosie
further support with 20/30 Chat, a Leukaemia Foundation-facilitated support
group for younger people affected by a blood cancer or disorder.
thing about having cancer as a 20-year-old is that none of your friends know
what to say, so it was nice to meet other people on the same journey.”
Now, one year
later, Rosie has returned in a limited capacity to both study and nursing.
“I do short,
staggered shifts in low immunity wards, as it will be another year until my
immune system recovers,” she said.
Rosie is slowly getting back into more of a routine, she is still very fatigued
and finds is difficult to explain her limitations to people.
challenges, Rosie is determined to keep pushing ahead with her study.
to finish my degree in December – and then take a very long holiday!”
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For information about 20/30 Chat and Fit to Thrive, please contact us.