A type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that most often occurs in young people aged 12-30.


Burkitt's Lymphoma Resources

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My daughter Erica was 21 years old when she was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma. She had moved back in with me (her mother) in February of 1997 with her 21-month old daughter Hannah, after a failed relationship. What we did not know at the time, was that Erica was also pregnant again. Erica became ill and was diagnosed in April of 1997. She underwent abdominal surgery to remove a "football" size tumor which had obliterated one of her ovaries, and a "tennisball" size lymph node. The twelve-week fetus survived the surgery, but we were told by the oncology physicians that she must undergo an abortion immediately, because the aggressive chemotherapy she would need to survive would probably kill, or severely damage the fetus. So, just a day or two after major abdominal surgery, a diagnosis of "CANCER", she then had to have an abortion.

Chemotherapy was initiated immediately. In all, she was hospitalized for 6 months, undergoing 7 rounds of very intensive chemotherapy, coming home between rounds for a day or two. Sometimes, during her visit home her temperature would rise, and I would have to rush her back to the hospital, just hours after leaving. Erica, also had multiple blood transfusions, and two life-threatening blood infections during the six-month period.

On October 1, 1997, Erica had completed the treatment, and was declared to be in "remission". The nurses, social worker, and other cancer patients' ordered pizza, and cake to celebrate her completing her treatment protocol, and to celebrate her 22nd birthday, which was the October 2nd. It was an emotional day.

On October 2nd Erica's birthday, I took the day off of work, and took her to the mall, we were still using a wheelchair, because she was too weak to walk any distance. There was a sign-up table at the mall for an upcoming Susan G. Koman "Race for the Cure" walk/run for breast cancer survivors. Erica said, "next year, I'm going to run that race". I told her, I knew she would, but we could do it this year too. So we signed up, received two tee shirts, and entered the race, mother pushing daughter in wheelchair. It was an inspiring experience. The next year, October of 1998, Erica did as she said she would do, she entered the race, this time she had hair, color in her cheeks, and no wheelchair. I have pictures of her running across the finish line. It was awesome.

Burkitt's Lymphoma was a life changing experience for all of us. We feel very fortunate to live near a wonderful teaching/research institution, and hospital such as UAB hospital in Birimingham, Al. We will be forever grateful to all the nurses, and physicians on the hemotology/oncology team who had a hand in making Erica well again. If it had not been for my supportive family, especially my Mother, and sister I really don't know if we could have survived the ordeal. My mother, literally moved into the hospital, and was with Erica 24/7 for the entire 6 months. This allowed me to continue to work (I work at UAB hospital). My sister became a surrogate mother to my little granddaughter, and they traveled back and forth every few weeks so that Erica could see Hannah. My sister's family was very suportive, especially her husband, who I will be forever grateful to for his kindness, and generosity.

Presently, Erica is still in remission, she has virtually no remaining effects of the harsh chemotherapy. She, and her daugher, Hannah still live with me while Erica is a full-time nursing student. Erica is a "First Connection" peer counselor for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society where she is occasionally called upon to encourage people with newly diagnosed Burkitt's Lymphoma, and other similar cancers. Her dream is to be an oncology nurse.

If we can be of any help to others going through a similar experience you can reach Erica, or me, Jackie( her mother) by e-mail cancervive@mindspring.com


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