“I am going to laugh if you have cancer.” That is what my sister said when it seemed like an impossible diagnosis. Why would I, of all people, have cancer? I was only 25. I was eating a whole-food, plant-based diet. For my health and the environment, I avoided plastic. To this day, I hardly ever use a microwave. I don’t use toxic products on my skin or toxic cleaners in my house. Yet, in April of 2017, I was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. But not just one type of lymphoma, I had two! My body was hosting a party for follicular AND diffuse large B cell lymphoma. This is my story of being diagnosed and overcoming cancer in my 20s.
Cancer Diagnosis at 25
It all started the year before in December. Something you should know about me, I am not the most observant person. I started to feel some bumps on the back of my head. I wondered if those bumps had always been there, or if they were a recent addition to my body. But I didn’t have time for a medical scare! I already had to reduce my hours at work so I could focus on my classes. I was a term and a half away from getting my bachelor’s degree, so I ignored my concerns.
At the end of my spring term, I was exactly where I wanted to be. I had just graduated, I was living independently from my parents, and I had a job lined up with a salary! Everything was perfect for a couple of weeks, but then, like a house of cards, my entire life came tumbling down. The worst month of my life started with my three-year relationship coming to an end. Then one week later, while at work, I got the diagnosis. My oncologist called me to let me know that I had lymphoma. Not only did I have cancer, but I was told I might never be able to have children (I ended up switching oncologists after my first round of chemo because she had no idea what she was talking about. Chemo has not affected my fertility at all).
Navigating treatment and regaining control
At the time, I was in denial. I didn’t want to confront my fear. A friend recommended I try blogging as a coping mechanism. While I loved the idea of potentially helping people out by sharing my experience, at the time, it was too much. To type out my experience would mean confronting my reality and my fears. It would have made the experience real, which I was not yet ready for.
Love & remission
After four and a half months and six rounds of chemo, I was finally done! I was in remission, and I could finally breathe. For the first time in a long time, things were looking up. After my diagnosis, I started dating my now fiancé. In the next year, I achieved my dream of becoming a middle school math teacher. I also regained my independence by renting my very own apartment.
Telling My Story
A year and a half after being diagnosed, I decided that it was time – I wanted to share my story of overcoming cancer. I had done a few YouTube videos here and there, but now I have found my purpose. I hope that by sharing my struggles and my triumphs through videos I can motivate other people to fight through their diagnoses with confidence. My channel, Melanie Camille, is designed to share not only what life was like with cancer but also what life is like after overcoming cancer. I look forward to sharing major life events like my wedding (coming up this summer), future pregnancies (hopefully), and whatever other adventures life will bring. God willing, there will be many more to come.