SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Hodgkin’s lymphoma rates are highest among teens and young adults ages 15 to 39 according to the CDC.
Experts say when the cancer is caught early though, treatment can be very effective.
Christmas is usually filled with family traditions and holiday decorations.
But for 22-year old Amanda Ferguson the holiday was anything but tradition.
“I went in for a simple check up because I had a cold and low and behold I had a lump in my chest. And one test lead to another and finally I was diagnosed in March with Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” Amanda Ferguson said.
Ferguson’s initial reaction to the diagnosis was shock.
“My husband and I kind of knew that you don’t just get a lump in your chest and it’s fine, and it doesn’t just hang out for 4 months,” Ferguson said.
Avera Health hematologist and bone marrow transplant physician Dr. Renju Raj says extreme fatigue, unexplained weight loss and fever are some of the symptoms of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which can vary patient to patient.
“The most common symptoms that you can have are swollen lymph nodes. Enlarged, swellings in greatest parts of your body. Primarily in the neck, armpits, groin,” Raj said.
But he says a lump can present anywhere in the body, and are usually painless.
Ferguson caught her cancer at stage 1, and began chemotherapy in April.
“It’s hard, it’s definitely not easy. I thought when I went in at 22 that I was invincible and I’m not. I’m not invincible, it’s hard,” Ferguson said.
Aside from the potential side effects of chemo Ferguson was even more worried about losing her hair.
“I was very upset. I cried many, many hours, to many, many people,” Ferguson said.
Now, she says losing her hair has been the easiest challenge throughout her journey.
After undergoing chemotherapy Amanda will move on to radiation. She says her prospect of being cancer free is good.
“You know there’s a chance it could never come back again. I get to life my life, I get to be around for my husband, and my step son and my family and my niece,” Ferguson said.
By sharing her story she hopes to help others going through a similar experience, and urges them to be their own advocate.
“Be your own advocate. Only you know what’s going on with your body,” Ferguson said.
If you would like to donate to Ferguson’s medical expenses, click here.