Learning About Lymphoma
- Antony ‘Abaddon’ Bray, 62, just shared that he was diagnosed with lymphoma. He’s since started chemotherapy, but said he felt “pretty good” after his first chemo session.
- Early symptoms of lymphoma can be tricky to notice as they may include swollen lymph nodes, fatigue or unexplained weight loss.
- Resilience is not an uncommon trait amongst cancer warriors. Danielle Ripley-Burgess, a two-time colon cancer survivor, says her cancer journey helped her uncover “some beautiful things: Wisdom. Love. Life purpose. Priorities.”
Bray’s cancer journey began after he noticed a mass growing on the side of his neck in July 2022.Read More
But despite not being too concerned, Bray’s doctor still referred him to see a specialist.
“He did some tests then sent me straight away for a biopsy, I had three samples taken and then went back to see my specialist who said that sadly it was lymphoma a cancer of the blood,” the post reads. “He sent me immediately for a CT scan and an MRI scan which showed that I also had cancer in my bowel and lower intestinal tract.”
It’s unclear from Bray’s post if he has lymphoma as well as other cancers like bowel cancer or his lymphoma has spread to his bowel and lower intestinal tract. But given the fact that he had cancer in multiple places, Bray’s doctors decided to refer him elsewhere and not to operate.
From there, he started six cycles of chemotherapy which began last week. He’ll also undergo radiotherapy “after a few bouts of chemotherapy.” Thankfully, he’s feeling “pretty good” according to an update following his first chemo session.
Regardless of the challenging road ahead, ‘Abaddon’ is refusing to let cancer get him down.
“Non of this will break me,” the post reads. “F*** cancer.”
Lymphoma, in general, is a type of blood cancer. Blood cancers can affect the bone marrow, blood cells, lymph nodes and other parts of the lymphatic system. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society reports that every 3 minutes, one person in the U.S. is diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma.
More specifically, lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system that begins in the white blood cells called lymphocytes. Lymphoma begins when lymphocytes develop a genetic mutation that makes them multiply much faster than normal.
This mutation also forces older cells that would normally die to stay alive. From there, the quickly multiplying lymphocytes collect and build up in your lymph nodes, the small glands in your neck, armpits and other parts of your body.
There are more than 40 different types of the disease, but Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are the main two sub-categories with the latter being much more common. The type of white blood cells linked to the disease determines the distinction. 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.
You might be at a higher risk for this disease if you:
- Have been infected with the HIV or Epstein-Barr virus
- Had an organ transplant
- Have a family history of lymphoma
- Have been treated with radiation or chemotherapy drugs for cancer in the past
- Have an autoimmune disease
Signs of Lymphoma
One thing to note about lymphomas is that this type of cancer often creeps in quietly, without symptoms. And even when symptoms do show up, they don’t necessarily point directly to cancer.
In a previous interview, Dr. Elise Chong, a medical oncologist at Penn Medicine, explained that lymphoma symptoms could be difficult to detect.
“The symptoms of lymphoma, especially if you have a low-grade lymphoma, often are no symptoms,” Dr. Chong explained. “People say, but I feel completely fine, and that’s very normal.”
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 unusual 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.
The Resilience of Cancer Warriors
At SurvivorNet, we get to share stories of resilience all the time because there’s no shortage of brave cancer warriors holding onto hope in the face of adversity and achieving amazing things.
Danielle Ripley-Burgess, a two-time colon cancer survivor, is another resilient cancer survivor like Abaddon. She was first diagnosed with colon cancer in high school and proceeded to beat the disease not once, but twice.
Understandably so, Ripley-Burgess has had to work through a lot of complex emotions that came with her cancer journey. Even still, she’s always managed to look at life with a positive attitude.
“As I’ve worked through the complex emotions of cancer, I’ve uncovered some beautiful things: Wisdom. Love. Life purpose. Priorities,” she previously told SurvivorNet. “I carry a very real sense that life is short, and I’m grateful to be living it! This has made me optimistic.
“Optimism doesn’t mean that fear, pain and division don’t exist – they do. Our world is full of negativity, judgment and hate. Optimism means that I believe there’s always good to be found despite the bad, and this is what my life is centered around.”
She moves through life with a sense of purpose unique to someone who’s been faced with the darkest of times. Happily in remission today, she’s determined to, one day, leave the world better than she found it.
“We can choose to stay positive, treat others with respect and look for the light in spite of the darkness,” she said. “This type of attitude and behavior will lead to the kind of legacies I believe all of us hope to leave.”