The primary signal was itchy pores and skin. My thighs itched. My stomach itched. All the pieces itched. I couldn’t see any rashes or dry pores and skin, however after two months, the feeling received so dangerous that it distracted me at work.
I lastly went to a dermatologist in December 2007. We thought of potential explanations. Might or not it’s eczema? In all probability not; I confirmed not one of the basic markers of the dysfunction. On the finish of the appointment, I discussed that I had a lump above my collarbone. It is perhaps getting larger, I advised her, however I wasn’t certain.
She examined the bump and advised me it was an enlarged lymph node, a gland that helps the physique battle off infections. She suggested me to see a normal practitioner for a full checkup. She even known as me a number of occasions the next week to remind me.
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So I went to a normal doctor to have blood work performed and take a chest x-ray. Then got here further assessments, together with a tissue biopsy of the lump. That biopsy confirmed the very last thing I anticipated: I had stage 2A Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood most cancers that always strikes adults of their 20s and 30s. Itchy pores and skin, it seems, may be a symptom.
I collapsed into my mother’s arms after I received the prognosis. “I simply don’t wish to die,” I advised her. I used to be 23, and I had a lot extra life to dwell.
The battle begins
I began chemotherapy two weeks later in my physician’s workplace, enduring 12 therapies over six months. I’d get the medication each different Thursday and take off work the next Monday, when the steroids that had been alleged to ease unintended effects like nausea and ache wore off. Other than that—and the wig I wore to hide my bald head—I saved my life regular. I went my job as a fundraising occasion planner and met pals for dinner.
By summer time, I used to be in remission. But I wasn’t feeling like my outdated self, and I knew I wished to get robust once more. When two pals advised me they had been operating the Nike Ladies’s Marathon in San Francisco in my honor (fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society), I used to be moved and motivated. With my physician’s okay, I began to coach for the Disney Half Marathon in Orlando in January 2009.
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I admit it was just a little loopy. I’d been a runner pre-cancer, however I had by no means tried a race longer than 10Ok. Nonetheless, I did it—I ran the half in two hours and eight minutes. Victory, proper? Not fairly. The weekend of my half-marathon, I observed a well-recognized feeling close to my collarbone. Might the lump be coming again?
Returning to regular life in remission
I ought to point out that coincidentally, I might just lately began working in the fundraising division at Memorial Sloan Kettering Most cancers Middle (MSKCC), a high most cancers hospital that my physician was affiliated with. I wore my wig after I interviewed at Memorial in September 2008, however I didn’t point out that I had been recognized with most cancers lower than a yr earlier. I wished to be employed as a result of I had the talents they had been in search of, not my well being historical past. Fortunately, I received the job. However proper after I ran my half in January, my physician confirmed that my Hodgkin’s lymphoma was again.
Lauren vs. most cancers: spherical two
My docs advised me that remedy can be extra aggressive the second time round, and I needed to be admitted into the hospital for many of it: two preconditioning chemotherapy therapies had been adopted by two weeks of radiation adopted by four-day rounds of high-dose chemo. “Uncomfortable” doesn’t start to explain the excessive fevers I struggled with and such extreme throat ache that it harm to eat.
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I additionally underwent a stem cell transplant: a catheter transfers my very own cells, collected by medical staffers weeks earlier, again into my physique. The hope was that the newly transferred cells would immediate my system to supply wholesome new blood cells. It is a milestone; folks within the medical world name the date of your stem cell transplant your second birthday. I celebrated my 25th birthday within the hospital on April 17. A week later, I had my ‘second birthday’ after I received my transplant.
A life devoted to health
I left the hospital in Might and centered my life on restoration and getting robust once more. I’ve all the time liked making an attempt new lessons and getting higher at outdated ones. In any case I’d been via, understanding felt much more rewarding. Almost each Saturday for the following 5 years, I might be at Core Fusion Barre class at Exhale or sweating it out at SoulCycle.
My lecturers impressed me to develop a degree of power I didn’t know I had, and the joys I felt after I realized I used to be getting higher motivated me. With time, I made the choice to commit my life to inspiring others via health. In fall 2014, I signed up for barre trainer coaching with Exhale. 2 hundred hours later, I used to be licensed.
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In January 2015, I left the safety of a full-time job and based Chi Chi Life. That is my manner of pursuing health whereas maintaining my love for fundraising, occasion planning, and most cancers advocacy. I educate barre at Exhale and Pilates and TRX lessons at Flex Studios in New York Metropolis whereas additionally working with shoppers to plan philanthropic occasions.
For me, health is all about group and connection. I’ve run a number of half marathons since my most cancers’s been in remission, elevating greater than $75,000 for causes I am obsessed with. I even ran the New York Metropolis Marathon, which took me previous the Memorial Sloan Kettering Most cancers Middle constructing. I want there have been phrases to seize what it felt wish to run previous the place that saved my life—and helped me uncover my life’s mission.