Navigating Life's Curveballs
- Aspiring lawyer Anglee Kumar, 26, had just been hired at a top law firm in London when she found out she had lymphoma.
- Symptoms presented as heart palpitations, and she was initially told to cut back on coffee and alcohol. Anglee had a clean bill of health, so the diagnosis understandably came as quite a shock, especially when learning it was stage 4.
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that forms in the white blood cells, and is often difficult to diagnose until late stage. Symptoms to look out for include swollen glands in your neck, armpit or groin, unexplained weight loss, and/or night sweats.
Symptoms presented as heart palpitations, and she was initially told to cut back on coffee and alcohol. Anglee had a clean bill of health, so the diagnosis understandably came as quite a shock, especially when learning it was stage 4.Read More
Over the course of months, Anglee had multiple tests done: breathing tests, blood tests, a seven-day ECG for her heart, and even an ultrasound. They all came back normal.
She pushed for one last test, a CT scan, which doctors first pushed back on given her young age. Finally, she received her non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis. This type of blood cancer forms in the white blood cells, and is often difficult to diagnose.
“When they told me, it was like all my fears had come true,” she recalled of hearing the tragic news. “I left and I was shaking and crying a lot. I don’t think I’ve ever cried that much.”
Anglee admitted that the most difficult part of the onslaught of her journey was having to tell her mom, who has also been through cancer.
“Obviously she’s been through it all. Through the chemo. And so she knew what was coming,” she said. “I just let my dad tell everyone because I couldn’t face my family.”
Losing her hair was also extremely tough, which many cancer patients will say is the one of the most emotional experiences overall.
“That time was awful. I stopped looking in the mirror because I just looked so scary,” she said. “You look sick, your family looks at your a different way even though they don’t mean to. it’s just a constant reminder of how sick you are. I lost all my confidence. I didn’t really leave my bed.”
Anglee is also intent on sharing her story due to the tradition in the Asian community of keeping your health news private.
“And it sounds silly but in Asian cultures, if you’re a girl, and if you’re sick, then everyone hides it because it’s seen as a reason you wouldn’t be able to get married,” she explained. “I’m sure there’s a lot of Asian girls that have to hide stuff, but I’m now trying to break the stigma.”
Anglee boldly competed in a Miss Universe competition in January of this year and came in second. After recently finishing chemotherapy treatment, the brave contestant has since heard the beautiful news that she is now in remission. Sounds like a winner in our book!
Learning More About Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
When you’re diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, one of the first things your doctor will want to know is your type. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma comes in a few different subtypes. Knowing which one of these you have can help steer you to the most appropriate treatment for you.
One way doctors divide up these cancers is based on how fast they’re likely to grow and spread. “The two main classifications I think of in terms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma are lymphomas that are more indolent and those that are more aggressive, because those are treated very differently,” Dr. Jennifer Crombie, medical oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, tells SurvivorNet.
Indolent lymphomas grow slowly and often don’t cause any symptoms, so they may not need immediate treatment. At the opposite end of the spectrum are aggressive lymphomas, which grow and spread quickly and need to be treated right away.
People with lymphoma do not always have symptoms, but common ones are:
- Swollen glands in your neck, armpit or groin
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
- Feeling tired
- Swelling in your stomach
No matter what, it’s important to communicate anything usual happening to your body with your doctor. Even if you think there’s nothing to worry about, it’s good to rule out the possibility of more serious issues.