Lauren Woodfield, from Sydney, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma - a type of blood cancer - in 2015 shortly after finding a lump on the right side of her collarbone

Mom Lauren Woodfield tells how she got blood cancer TWICE

A mother of two who thought she had tonsillitis and a persistent “nursery” was diagnosed with blood cancer at age 31 — and again five years later.

Lauren Woodfield, from Sydneywas diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma – a type of blood cancer – in 2015 shortly after finding a lump on the right side of her collarbone.

After visiting a new doctor who thought she had mononucleosis, she noticed the grape-sized lump and went to her regular GP for an examination.

“I was quite naive about the whole experience,” Lauren, now 38, told FEMAIL.

She was given a strong dose of antibiotics before seeing an oncologist for further testing — and finally got the shocking news.

Lauren Woodfield, from Sydney, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma – a type of blood cancer – in 2015 shortly after finding a lump on the right side of her collarbone

“I was quite naive about the whole experience,” Lauren, now 38, told FEMAIL

The Most Common Symptoms of Hodgkin Lymphoma

Swollen lymph nodes

Painless swelling of lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or groin

Persistent fatigue

A fever

night sweat

Lose weight without trying

severe itching

Pain in your lymph nodes after drinking alcohol

But instead of being called to the doctor, a receptionist delivered the terrible news to Lauren — leaving her with more questions than answers at the time.

‘It was crazy; I went and saw one of the other girls in the office [at work] and I told her they think I have Hodgkin lymphoma — and her face just slumped,” Lauren said.

“She said to me, ‘I think you should go home,’ and I was a little oblivious.”

Before getting her results back, she went to see another oncologist, and the seriousness of the diagnosis only dawned on Lauren when she was asked “the biggest question” of her life.

Instead of being called to the doctor, a receptionist delivered the terrible news to Lauren - leaving her with more questions than answers at the time.

Instead of being called to the doctor, a receptionist delivered the terrible news to Lauren – leaving her with more questions than answers at the time.

After the surgical biopsy determined the cancer type and location, Lauren had one round of IVF before starting six months of chemotherapy

After the surgical biopsy determined the cancer type and location, Lauren had one round of IVF before starting six months of chemotherapy

“The bombshell was when the doctor asked, ‘Are you done with your family?'” she recalls.

‘At the time, that question burned more than the actual diagnosis. What kind of question is that?’

The doctor asked if Lauren was done having children, at which point her oldest daughter Isla was only 15 months old.

“I was like, ‘No, what do you mean?’ I just had no idea,” she said.

The doctor explained that the required treatment was quite advanced and can cause early menopause, so IVF was recommended for egg collection.

“Then it became very real, because I was still in the new motherhood phase,” she said.

Doctors chose radiotherapy because of Lauren's age and additional health risk factors

Doctors chose radiotherapy because of Lauren’s age and additional health risk factors

Lauren described the treatment as a 'crazy time' as she and husband Mitch were rebuilding their house and living with his parents

Lauren described the treatment as a ‘crazy time’ as she and husband Mitch were rebuilding their house and living with his parents

After the surgical biopsy determined the cancer type and location, Lauren had one round of IVF before starting six months of chemotherapy.

Lauren described the treatment as a “crazy time” as she and husband Mitch were remodeling their home and living with his parents.

She said, “I think it was a blessing in disguise because it was the best distraction from everything else that happened.”

Doctors chose radiotherapy because of Lauren’s age and additional health risk factors.

After the treatment and recovering from side effects such as extreme fatigue, Lauren went back to work three days a week.

Doctors chose radiotherapy because of Lauren’s age and additional health risk factors.

But a few years later, in 2020, the unthinkable happened and Lauren relapsed.  This time, Lauren only needed two months of 'intensive' chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant at the end of 2020

But a few years later, in 2020, the unthinkable happened and Lauren relapsed. This time, Lauren only needed two months of ‘intensive’ chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant at the end of 2020

But a few years later, in 2020, the unthinkable happened during the pandemic.

“I had all those familiar feelings,” she said.

Towards the end of Sydney’s first lockdown, Lauren found another lump on the left side of her collarbone.

“I came back to my husband and said, ‘It’s back,’ and burst into tears,” she said.

As the hospital system was overloaded with patients due to Covid, it took seven and a half weeks for an official diagnosis.

Unfortunately, a PET scan and X-ray confirmed that the cancer had returned.

This time, by the end of 2020, Lauren needed just two months of “intensive” chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.

“The side effects were on a higher level, it was nothing I’d ever experienced,” she said, adding that she was extremely fatigued and her hair was starting to thin.

At one point, when she was on the phone with a friend, Lauren lost her vocabulary and couldn’t speak, so nurses rushed to the room and thought she was having a stroke.

Fortunately, an MRI found no bleeding in the brain, and doctors believe the inability to speak was a side effect of the aggressive chemotherapy.

Covid in part forced Lauren to live away from home for three and a half months – which was extremely difficult for both Lauren and Mitch.

Lauren is back in remission and has quarterly checkups.

What is Hodgkin Lymphoma?

Hodgkin lymphoma is a rare cancer that begins in a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes.

The disease begins in a lymph node, usually in the neck, and then spreads through the lymphatic system from one group of lymph nodes to another.

Hodgkin lymphoma represents about 0.5 percent of all cancers diagnosed in Australia. About 11 percent of all lymphomas are types of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, with the rest being non-Hodgkin’s.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma can occur in lymph nodes anywhere in the body, while Hodgkin’s lymphoma usually begins in the upper body, such as the neck, chest, or armpits.

Hodgkin lymphoma is often diagnosed at an early stage and is therefore considered one of the most treatable cancers.

The causes of Hodgkin lymphoma remain largely unclear, but risk factors include family history

Source: Lymphoma Australia

Her health issues prompted Lauren to reflect on the time she traveled abroad with Mitch shortly after they met.

“We knew we had to go back to doing what we loved and have new adventures,” she said.

In March of this year, Lauren and the family began their journey across the country and are currently in Bowen, Queensland.

At the moment their oldest daughter is homeschooled and neither Lauren nor Mitch are working.

“Life changes, but it’s up to us to adapt to every twist and turn. Keep making plans, keep dreaming and just make changes to follow those dreams,” she said.

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