|CANCER & TREATMENTS FOR CANCER CENTER PATIENTS PREVENTION & RISK ASSESSMENT CLINICAL TRIALS & RESEARCH LIVING WITH CANCER|
Anna Brower, Diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease, 2000Anna Brower, Diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease, 2000
How old were you when you were first diagnosed?
It was the spring of sixth grade, and I had just turned 12. I had a case of bronchitis that just wouldn't go away. After a chest X-ray and a biopsy,my pediatrician diagnosed stage four Hodgkin's lymphoma. The whole thing happened so fast -- only three days from the X-ray to the diagnosis.
As a 12-year old, what did cancer mean to you?
I was pretty terrified. It was the first time I'd ever seen both my parents cry at the same time. After the diagnosis,we met with my oncologist at Michigan. I don't remember much of what she told me about what was ahead, except she said I had a pretty good chance. The disease has about a 70% survival rate. That's all I really remember -- it was still feeling surreal.
What was your treatment like?
During treatment, I had pretty much every side effect in the book. My hair fell out, of course, and I lost lots of weight and was nauseous. I developed mouth sores that were so bad I had to be admitted to the hospital for them. The whole thing was pretty exhausting and painful.
All of that in sixth grade! How did cancer impact your school life?
Looking back, the social part was the toughest. I don't think I really noticed it until after it was over -- when I went back to school. You learn a lot socially at that age, and I was so detached. I felt different. The things that mattered so much before -- boys, hair, movies -- just weren't as important after cancer. Getting back into the world of my peers was a real adjustment.
How are you doing now?
What would you like to tell kids and parents facing a diagnosis like yours?
How would you define a "survivor"?
It's just like they say, the minute you're diagnosed, you become a survivor.
Anna was recently named the Ann Arbor Honored Hero for the 2005 Light the Night walk sponsored by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Michigan.