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A Family Battle Against Lymphoma

May 28, 2014, 6:19 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

A Family Battle Against Lymphoma

Chances are, you've heard of Hodgkin's lymphoma. But the disease isn't as common as you might think.

In fact, just 9,100 people are diagnosed with the type of cancer each year in the U.S.

A Miller, South Dakota family knows about Hodgkin's lymphoma only too well.

As a recently engaged 22-year-old, Megan Meier never imagined she'd spend so much time here--in the chemotherapy room at Avera. Meier was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in December.

"I will admit when Megan called me and told me she had Hodgkin's, I went in the bathroom and took a shower. When I got out, I sat on the floor and cried for two hours," Hertel said.

Meier is thankful she's had so much support, including from her mother.

"When I have rough days or something is wrong, I can call her. She knows what I'm going through. She's been there," Meier said.

You see, Megan's mom, Amy Hertel, actually battled the same type of cancer when she was in her teens.

"Anybody can say, 'I understand your bad day. I understand this medicine makes you feel this way.' Being a mom, I can say it as a mom and also as a former patient," Hertel said.

"It's good to know that somebody else has felt the same way I do, and I'm not doing it by myself," Meier said.

In addition to Meier's mom, her grandmother also battled Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"Family members clearly seem to be at a higher risk of developing lymphoma--first degree relatives, but no genetic link has been identified very clearly," Avera Clinical Hematologist Dr. Vinod Parameswaran said.

Hertel was checked for a genetic link, but none was found.

"It was crazy that they saw a grandmother and a mother and a daughter come in all for the same thing, but there's no connection there," Meier said.

Thankfully, the survival rate for patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma has more than doubled since the 1960's.

"There's so much technology, and we've come so far that to me it's awesome. T hey can't say you have two weeks to live, or two months to live, because there's so much more hope," Hertel said.

Hertel has no doubt that her daughter will live a long, happy life, just as she has.

"I have been blessed. I have lived a lifetime truly since my diagnosis," Hertel said.

Meier is also confident she'll beat the disease. She's planning on getting married next August.

Hodgkin's lymphoma is most often diagnosed in people between the ages of 15 and 35, as well as those older than 55.

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