In the midst of lockdown 1 my best friend was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Why Lymphoma Action?
I think everyone can agree 2020 has been a spectacularly rubbish year. However, back in May, just as I thought this year couldn’t get any worse (long story, but suffice to say we’re now on our third date for our wedding, and who knows if that will even happen) it got a whole lot worse.
Not for me you understand, but for my best friend. As in the midst of lockdown no.1 she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma stage 2a (a blood cancer that left untreated can be seriously bad news). In her thirties with a toddler and a high-powered career, she already had a lot on her plate without this (we won’t go into also buying and rebuilding a house as well). At my hen weekend, which turned out to be a last hurrah in more ways than one, she mentioned she had a lump on her neck that was bothering her and that she was going to get it checked out. I agreed, I reassured her it was probably nothing, but always best to get these things checked out. The phone call early one Saturday morning to tell me the news of the diagnosis was frankly awful.
We all know the statistics that one in two of us will suffer with cancer in their lifetime. And I am sure we all have friends, colleagues and family members who’s lives it has touched, if not ourselves. But when someone younger than you and perfectly healthy has a diagnosis like this it really does hit you. The good news was the survival rates are excellent and I knew in my heart of hearts she would be fine, but equally I also knew she was in for a solid gold sh*t few months, as she went through treatment and all that brought with it. Not only was she was going to lose her hair; something that any woman would struggle with; but she was going to face losing control – which in some ways I think for her must have been worse (those who know her will know what I mean).
Luckily for her she has a great head (not like my pea head) and as we discovered, can work a headscarf like no one else! Also, she approached it (as much as you can) with a positive can-do attitude, typical of her. She saw it as a project, there was even talk of spreadsheets! Ever competitive, she strove to be the best cancer patient possible. But as is to be expected it wasn’t an easy road with scares and set-backs along the way. Nobody comes through these things unscathed, but to her credit she has learned a huge amount about herself and life in general. Part of her coping mechanism was to run an Instagram account documenting the ups and downs of treatment. It was and is, honest and heartfelt, shining a light on a process we all hope we will never have to go through. Her hope was to help educate others on what can be a lonely journey and to raise awareness of the signs of Hodgkin’s, as well as raising a fair amount of money along the way to support Lymphoma Action (my nominated charity for my 12 Days of Giving Donation).
Of course it was nothing compared to what she was going through, but the real kicker this year for me was that Covid meant I couldn’t be there for her as I would have been in normal circumstances. There was no going out and having fun trying on wigs, there was no cheer-you-up dinners and drinks and fun days out to look forward to. Instead there was shielding. The opposite of fun. I did what I could with ‘fun post’, little gifts and helpful bits and bobs that would regularly turn up in the post along with FaceTime chats. Then when we could, socially distanced walks away from any people. But all you want to do when this sort of thing happens is give them a mighty great hug and that was the one thing that I couldn’t do (not for far too long anyway). Thankfully things are looking up and she is in remission after one hell of a year. I for one will be happy to see the back of 2020 and look forward to 2021 with a new appreciation for life and the importance of good friends. I’m also hugely grateful and proud that this year, despite not being able to give hands-on help to charities as we usually do, as part of our 12 Days of Giving initiative, Jellybean will be donating an average day’s salary to charities and good causes nominated by the beans themselves. This has been the story of why I chose www.lymphoma-action.org.uk/.