Makeup Artist's Lymphoma Battle
- Makeup artist April Grierson, 20, changed the detergent she used which led to itching last summer, and she was misdiagnosed as having scabies. Later, a lump was found on her neck – she was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Other symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma – in addition to lumps on the neck or lymph nodes – may include swelling around the armpits or groin, persistent fatigue, fever, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, and severe itching.
- Biopsies are performed as a way to evaluate a cancer and its makeup.
The Liverpool native experienced chronic itching in June 2021 after changing her laundry detergent, and her doctor initially misdiagnosed her as having scabies. Later, a lump was found on her neck.Read More
This is a good reminder for all of us to always listen to your gut and your inner voice when something feels off.
Grierson continues, “Turns out I was right and I’m so glad I kept going back to the doctors. I knew my own body. At first I was trying to work out what I was allergic to. My skin itched day and night from my head to my feet. I was tearing at my skin. I couldn’t sleep and I was making myself bleed, I was red raw.” After a scabies diagnosis, she says, “I knew it couldn’t be scabies as it’s highly contagious and my boyfriend hadn’t caught it.”
April’s Cancer Journey & Treatment
After Grierson changed her detergent she experienced itchy skin in June 2021, and her doctor thought it was scabies. But after she switched to a different brand, she still had itchy skin, and it concerned her. After she found a bump on her neck, she was later diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in November 2021. A bump on the neck, as Grierson experienced, or the swelling of the lymph nodes on the neck is one symptom of lymphoma.
Other symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma may include swelling around the armpits or groin, persistent fatigue, fever, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, and severe itching. Speak with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
For treatment, Grierson is undergoing six months of twice-weekly chemotherapy.
Lymphoma begins in white blood cells called lymphocytes. This kind of cancer is typically classified as either Hodgkin lymphoma or Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The distinction between lies in the white blood cells linked to the disease. If doctors are unable to detect the Reed-Sternberg cell (a giant cell derived from B lymphocytes), then it is categorized as Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
In a previous interview, Dr. Elise Chong, a medical oncologist at Penn Medicine, says lymphoma symptoms can be difficult to detect. “The symptoms of lymphoma, especially if you have a low-grade lymphoma, often are no symptoms. People say, but I feel completely fine, and that’s very normal,” she explains.
What to Expect from a Hodgkin Lymphoma Biopsy
Dr. Chong describes in an earlier interview what someone diagnosed with lymphoma, like Grierson, can expect from a lymphoma biopsy. She says, “The process of the biopsy depends on the type of biopsy that’s being performed. If it’s a surgical biopsy, usually the patient will either be put to sleep or in a twilight state, where you won’t remember anything about the procedure,” she explains.
Dr. Chong says the biopsy will require general anesthesia or some sort of lighter anesthesia. “This is also done so that no one’s remembering any discomfort associated with the procedure,” she says. “Then the surgeon cuts through the skin, removes the lymph node or other section of organ that’s being biopsied, and then this is closed back up either with skin glue or sutures or sometimes staples.”
Dr. Chongs says that processing that tissue takes around one to two weeks, “because we need to do special stains for lymphoma, we need to do chromosomal tests to really have enough information to talk about the type of lymphoma.”