Young Adult Persists, Gets Help for Hodgkin Lymphoma

I knew something was wrong with my body, and I wasn't giving up until I found answers. Don't give up on yourself; sometimes you have to fight for yourself before others do.

Katie Dimmock
cancer survivor, Katie Dimmock, posing in "No One Fights Alone" tee shirt

When Katie Dimmock, 26, learned she had cancer, she was actually a little relieved.

“It was one of the worst – but at the same time best – moments,” said Dimmock. “The worst because of course, nobody wants cancer. But it was also best because I felt as though I was being rescued from my symptoms that I had been feeling for almost 2 years. Finally, the journey of many trips to the doctors and leaving with unanswered questions were over. I felt lost and alone for so long, and I was finally found by my oncologist who was also eager to start the process of healing for me.”

Dimmock first knew something was wrong when she discovered a swollen lymph node in her neck in December 2015. She’d had swollen lymph nodes before when she had colds, but this time was different because the swelling didn’t go away. After 3 months, she had surgery to remove the lymph node, but a biopsy did not find the cancer. In the meantime, Dimmock began having new symptoms.

Over the next few months, she developed itchy skin, pain when drinking alcohol, trouble breathing, bone pain, fatigue, and more swollen lymph nodes. She saw 4 or 5 different doctors and had many tests including an MRI, x-ray, CT scan and multiple ultrasounds. Eventually one test revealed a large tumor in her chest cavity. She then had a PET scan and was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes.

“I knew something was wrong with my body, and I wasn't giving up until I found answers,” said Dimmock. “Don't give up on yourself; sometimes you have to fight for yourself before others do.”

Dimmock began chemotherapy in February 2017 and radiation 9 months later. In April 2018, she found out she was in remission – no more cancer could be detected in her body. But after she stopped putting all her energy into getting through treatment, Dimmock began to struggle emotionally. “After I was in remission is when I started realizing what had just happened to me,” she said.

Cancer as a young adult

Dimmock was working for a children’s afterschool program in Philadelphia when she started having symptoms. She says her employer was very supportive and gave her time off for chemotherapy treatments.

After she finished treatment, Dimmock looked for other young adults who’d had cancer and could relate to her experience. She had trouble finding any and says she felt very alone. For about a year, she had difficulty coping with the fact that she was now a cancer survivor. Then she decided to take a hard look at what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.

In 2019, Dimmock moved to Georgia and began attending Georgia State University while working at a preschool in the afternoons. She’s majoring in criminal justice and excited about pursuing a career in private investigation.

She says she’s happy now that she has a direction and is on the right path. “Sometimes you have to advocate for yourself,” she says. “If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong with you, don't accept ‘no’ for an answer.”

 

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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