December 20, 2021
The day I was declared cancer-free
BY Mallory Parrish
I knew I was responding well to my stage IV Hodgkin lymphoma treatment when the grapefruit-sized tumor in my chest began getting noticeably smaller. It had grown so large by the time I was diagnosed in the summer of 2020 that it touched all of my major internal organs and protruded out past my left collar bone. But after only two rounds of treatment with a new combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy on a clinical trial at MD Anderson, it started shrinking rapidly.
I developed many side effects, including nausea, fatigue and loss of appetite. But I felt lucky and blessed through my entire treatment. My scans were clear at my first post-clinical trial visit with my oncologist, Dr. Sairah Ahmed, and I’ve shown no evidence of disease since February 2021. I even got to ring the bell to mark the end of my treatments that same day.
Before I reached that milestone, though, I had to learn to celebrate life’s little victories, too. Because there were some days I couldn’t even get out of bed.
My boyfriend and I celebrated when I reached the halfway point in my treatment schedule. We celebrated each time a scan showed that the tumor was getting smaller. And we celebrated when I managed to get up, get dressed, and take a short walk outside, especially on the days when I really didn’t want to.
Things like that may seem pretty insignificant. But when you’re actually going through them, they can feel enormous. That’s why it’s important not to take anything for granted. Because sometimes, life is not easy. And focusing on small triumphs can make a huge difference.
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TopicsClinical Trials Immunotherapy
Focusing on small triumphs can make a huge difference.