Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was diagnosed in 2001 after persistent itching and a cough. The tumour responded poorly to treatment and it took several chemotherapies, a stem cell transplant and radiotherapy to achieve remission.
She developed severe itching that was debilitating, embarassing and prevented her from sleeping. She tried changing her washing powder, wearing only natural fabrics and installing a water softener but nothing helped. Eventually her husband persuaded her to see a doctor about it. Blood tests were done that showed she was anaemic. While waiting for the test results she developed a cough and one morning coughed up some sputum that contained blood, so she returned to the GP. She saw a locum who suggested a chest x-ray. The x-ray showed a mass in her chest cavity which her usual GP suspected could be caused by TB. She was referred to a chest consultant who suspected lung cancer and arranged for a CT scan and a bronchoscopy. The results took a long time to come through and she was eventually phoned by a consultant haematologist to say it was in fact a large cell anaplastic lymphoma.
She was given 6 CHOP chemotherapy treatments which only partially shrunk the tumour. She was given another chemotherapy regimen called DHAP which unfortunately had no effect so she was then given BEAM which shrunk the tumour a little. She then had to have daily injections to stimulate her bone marrow to produce more stem cells prior to having them harvested for a transplant. She was in hospital for about 3 weeks having high dose chemotherapy and the transplant. She was so ill that she couldn’t eat and had to be fed parenterally. After the transplant scans showed that there was still some residual disease so she was given radiotherapy to her chest five days a week for five weeks. After this scans showed no sign of active disease and she has been well ever since.