A Mom's Journey to Her Cancer Diagnosis
- A mom, Victoria Hemmings-Slack, was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma while pregnant and underwent chemotherapy at four months pregnant. She is now in remission and gave birth to a healthy son.
- Symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma include lumps on the neck or lymph nodes, 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 Mirror reports that Hemmings-Slack gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Gabriel, named as such because he is his parents’ “angel.”Read More
Mom Victoria’s Cancer Journey
Hemmings-Slack experienced breathlessness, as well as night sweats, itchy skin, and chest pain. She says, “I came back from my wedding and found I couldn’t catch my breath when I was working out, I thought it was strange because I’m in good shape and I didn’t understand. I went to the doctors, who said they thought it was a chest infection and I had some antibiotics, but it didn’t clear.”
Other symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma may include swelling around the armpits or groin, persistent fatigue, fever, unexplained weight loss, and severe itching. Speak with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
The mom was first diagnosed with a chest infection. However, she was taken to the emergency room following ongoing pain and a chest X-ray revealed a tumor on her chest while she was 17 weeks pregnant. Then, a lump in her neck was detected, and the mom was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.
To treat her disease, Hemmings-Slack underwent chemotherapy while she was four months along in her pregnancy.
The Mirror reports, Hemmings-Slack says, “I never expected to have cancer, I’d just got married, moved into our first home and we were expecting our first child. It felt really perfect, it was a massive shock.”
“I was really excited to be pregnant, but I only got to 17 weeks and then I found out I had this cancer and I was frightened of losing my baby all the time. I was worried I’d have a baby that wouldn’t remember his mum, I was worried I wouldn’t get through it.”
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. Chong also 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.”