Lymphoma: Shock at cancer covering windpipe
It has been a difficult journey for Jessica Harbridge who was diagnosed with T lymphoblastic lymphoma, a rare blood cancer, in September 2015.
She had developed a severe cough and despite numerous doctor visits, Jessica’s health had continued to rapidly decline. When her mum, Allison, discovered that her daughter could no longer lie flat on her back or stomach without suffocating herself, Allison took immediate action.
Rushing Jessica to Ballarat Base Hospital, she demanded an x-ray and the results stunned everyone in the building; a 17cm cancer had completely covered Jessica’s windpipe.
Jessica was immediately rushed to Melbourne Private where a biopsy confirmed she had T lymphoblastic lymphoma. Pumped full of steroids, Jessica was placed in the intensive care unit where six nurses barely left her side that evening and chemotherapy began the very next day.
“I was too sick to really understand what was going on,” said Jessica. “There was no chance to really discuss any options – I just had to start chemotherapy.”
Allison says the thought of accommodation never entered her head and she did what she had to do initially, travelling to and from their home in Ballarat, and staying with her sister in Melbourne.
“We weren’t aware of the services available to us and are very grateful for the assistance we’ve received through the Leukaemia Foundation,” said Alison. “We tell everyone how good the Leukaemia Foundation’s services are.”
Jessica says although there is no place like your own home or bed, her experience has been made a bit easier thanks to the Leukaemia Foundation.
“They do all they can to make it easier to cope with treatment, travel and living expenses,” said Jessica. The Leukaemia Foundation has a great network of support staff and has helped immensely with my treatment and I’m thankful for all they have done for me and my family.”
Facing her final rounds of chemotherapy Jessica still has a way to go but says she can now see that the hard work is worth it and these challenges are setting her up for whatever the future brings.
“Having blood cancer has made me look at life in a different light. It’s made me consider my health more than I did previously and made me realise how difficult it is for not just for the person who is diagnosed, but the whole family, to go through blood cancer,” said Jessica.