Alison Gomez, a two-time non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) survivor, began vlogging (video blogging) as a way to connect with and support others with her condition. She speaks openly about her experiences with various treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation, a bone marrow transplant, and the emotions that she feels while battling cancer. Alison, now in remission, continues to share her life online to show fellow NHL fighters and survivors that they are not alone.
Alison recently shared her story with our app.
Alison’s Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Journey
“I was at navy boot camp. It was my life dream to be in the military. I was finally in a good place in my life, I was finally at boot camp, but I was noticing something really strange going on. I was having swelling, like really bad swelling in my face every morning so I’m thinking I’m having an allergic reaction. I went to get all these tests done and it’s not an allergic reaction. Obviously, what we soon find out is that it’s cancer. I was 19 at the time.
I did six cycles of chemotherapy. I started in November and by April I was all finished, I was good to go, I was in remission. I had gotten a job, I was just trying to get back to a normal life. When I had my three-month checkup, they found my cancer again. The fact that it had returned so quickly having to get it taken care of was very urgent. I had to do chemotherapy again almost instantly. I had to do radiation and I had to do a bone marrow transplant. When I was diagnosed, it hit me really hard, but when I was diagnosed a second time it hit me even harder.”
Finding Those Who Understand
“For me, it was really difficult to feel like I had the right kind of support. Of course, I had support from my family and my friends, which was amazing, but it still felt like I was missing something to not have someone who actually knew what I was going through or how I was feeling.
My greatest support would have to be others in the cancer community. I mentioned how I had my family and my friends, but even the people closest to you sometimes may not be able to relate and it can be difficult, but that’s why my greatest support was just others who knew, who would just know exactly how I would feel and I’m sure with whatever condition you have there are support groups out there and you can find other people who will be able to not just be there to pat you on the back and make you feel better but to tell you that it can be a terrible thing and it sucks sometimes, but you’re not the only one who’s going through it.”
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Drawing on Community for Strength and Friendship
“My best advice for someone who is newly diagnosed is just to know that you’re not alone. I know that sometimes it can feel like you’re alone, even when you do have somebody in your life that might know what you’re going through. Even if they don’t know 100% of what you’re going through, they might have an idea and could still help you, even just by talking to them a little bit. It’s hard to feel like you’re alone, but just know that there’s somebody out there who is probably in the same shoes as you and they might even feel the same way; you’re not alone.”
How Alison Continues to Reach Out to Others
Alison first began vlogging after she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for the second time. She created videos covering her experiences with chemotherapy, radiation, and ultimately her bone marrow transplant, all while remaining open and honest with her viewers about the realities of life with cancer. Alison interacts with people who leave comments on her videos, and her outreach efforts have led to meaningful relationships with others in the cancer community. She wants to be the support for others that she needed herself and calls on those with cancer to “be there for other people in the cancer community. You have no idea who you could meet and what friendships you could make.”