Mum Lauren Woodfield shares how she was diagnosed with blood cancer TWICE


A mum-of-two who thought she had tonsillitis and a stubborn ‘daycare bug’ was diagnosed with blood cancer at just 31 years old – and again five years later.

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

After visiting a new doctor who thought she had glandular fever, she noticed the grape-size lump and went to her regular GP for testing. 

‘I was quite naïve to the whole experience,’ Lauren, now 38, told FEMAIL. 

She was put on a strong dose of antibiotics before visiting an oncologist for further tests – and was eventually given the shocking news.

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

'I was quite naïve to the whole experience,' Lauren, now 38, told FEMAIL

‘I was quite naïve to the whole experience,’ Lauren, now 38, told FEMAIL 

The most common symptoms of Hodgkin’s lymphoma 

 Swollen lymph nodes

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

Persistent fatigue 

Fever 

Night sweats 

Losing weight without trying 

Severe itching 

Pain in your lymph nodes after drinking alcohol

But rather than being called to the doctor, a receptionist delivered the dreadful news to Lauren – leaving her with more questions than answers at the time.

‘It was nuts; I went and saw one of the other girls in the office [at work] and I told her how they think I have Hodgkin’s lymphoma – and her face just dropped,’ Lauren said. 

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

Prior to getting her results back she went to see another oncologist and the seriousness of the diagnosis didn’t sink in for Lauren until she was asked ‘the biggest question’ of her life.

Rather than being called to the doctor, a receptionist delivered the dreadful news to Lauren - leaving her with more questions than answers at the time

Rather than being called to the doctor, a receptionist delivered the dreadful news to Lauren – leaving her with more questions than answers at the time

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

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

‘The bombshell was when the doctor asked, “Have you finished your family?”,’ she recalled. 

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

The doctor was asking whether Lauren had finished having children, and at the time her oldest daughter Isla was just 15 months old.

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

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

‘That’s when it became very real, because I was still in the new mum phase,’ she said. 

Doctors opted against radiotherapy treatment due to Lauren's age and additional health risk-factors

Doctors opted against radiotherapy treatment due to Lauren’s age and additional health risk-factors

Lauren described the treatment as a 'crazy time' as she and her husband Mitch were rebuilding their house and living at his parent's place

Lauren described the treatment as a ‘crazy time’ as she and her husband Mitch were rebuilding their house and living at his parent’s place 

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

Lauren described the treatment as a ‘crazy time’ as she and her husband Mitch were rebuilding their house and living at his parent’s place. 

She said: ‘I guess it was like a blessing in disguise because it was the best distraction from everything else that was happening.’ 

Doctors opted against radiotherapy treatment due to Lauren’s age and additional health risk-factors. 

After the treatment and recovering from the side-effects like extreme fatigue, Lauren returned to working three days a week. 

Doctors opted against radiotherapy treatment due to Lauren’s age and additional health risk-factors. 

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

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

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

‘I was having all these familiar feelings,’ she said. 

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

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

Since 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 the cancer had returned. 

This time round Lauren only needed two months of ‘intense’ chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant towards the end of 2020. 

‘The side effects were next level, it was nothing I had ever experienced,’ she said, adding how she was extremely fatigued and her hair started to thin. 

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

Thankfully an MRI didn’t find any bleeding in the brain and doctors believe the inability to speak was a side effect from the harsh chemotherapy drug. 

Also because of Covid Lauren had to live away from home for three and a half months – which was extremely difficult for both Lauren and Mitch.  

Lauren is once again in remission and has check-ups every three months. 

What is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

Hodgkin lymphoma is a rare form of cancer that starts in a type of white blood cells called lymphocytes.

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

Hodgkin lymphoma represents roughly 0.5 percent of all cancers diagnosed in Australia. About 11 percent of all lymphomas are types of Hodgkin lymphoma, while the remainder are non-Hodgkin.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma may arise in lymph nodes anywhere in the body, whereas Hodgkin lymphoma typically 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 led Lauren to reflect on time spent travelling overseas with Mitch soon after they met. 

‘We knew we had to get back to doing what we loved and go on new adventures,’ she said.  

In March this year, Lauren and the family started their journey on a lap around the country and are currently in Bowen, Queensland.

At the moment their oldest daughter is being home schooled and neither Lauren nor Mitch are working.     

‘Life changes but it’s up to us to adapt at each twist and turn. Keep making plans, keep dreaming and just making changes to follow those dreams,’ she said. 

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