Beating Burkitt’s Lymphoma – Christen’s Story – The Nebraska Medical Center

I decided to go to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
and I was studying journalism in the journalism college in advertising and public relations.
I also had a part-time job as a waitress. I was always tired all the time. I always
was calling in sick and I didn’t really know why it was so hard for me. Right when I got off of work I would just
go home and sleep. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t like the other employees there
and why I couldn’t keep up. I just was totally having flu-like symptoms. I would get the
chills and then get so hot. I was having digestive problems and I would wake up just drenched
in sweat. My clothes and my sheets would be just soaked. That’s when all the trips started
to the emergency room. I made four or five trips during the months of April and May and
every time they just told me you just have the flu. That’s when I came home to Omaha
for the summer. I went to the other hospital and I was struggling downhill from there.
After a couple of days they came in after a biopsy and told me it was cancerous but
we didn’t have a diagnosis. Meanwhile, my stomach was blowing up like I was pregnant
and my lungs were filling up with fluid. I had to have my lungs completely drained multiple
times which was totally painful. The day before we were bringing her in because
she was tired and the next day she was getting a blood transfusion and we still have no idea
what is wrong with her. At this point she was in the ICU and everyone was like, what
is going on, nobody is diagnosing her or getting to the bottom of it. It was just a big waiting
game. Then they put me on oxygen and monitoring
my heart because I was up to 150 beats per minute. It was a really scary time. I remember my mom came in and she was like,
I talked to my friend and she knows someone at The Nebraska Medical Center. We need to
get you over there right now. My mom just told me that The Nebraska Medical Center was
where I needed to be. Everyone was telling her, if its cancer and something wrong you
need to move her over to the med center. She had to go directly to ICU at med center
and within an hour you finally felt like she was going to get a diagnosis for sure. This
great doctor, who is head of OBGYN and ICU at the med center, came in and assessed with
all the interns around her bed. Every single thing that had transpired in the month before
from her night sweats to her anemia; they were asking when it started. They were outside
huddled and within I would say two hours after we checked in to med center, several doctors
came in and said we know what this is. They came up with their diagnosis of Sporadic
Burkitt’s Lymphoma, which is a type of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
We knew she was sick so we had them take a look at it right away. Once we had a diagnosis
then we knew what to do but we’re lucky to have several world-class humana pathologists
here who were able to make the diagnosis. The kind of lymphoma that she had was relatively
rare. About two percent of lymphomas were her type of lymphoma. This is something we
don’t see every day either but we see several cases a year. I always think it is good to
go to a place that has more experience treating this. This is one of the more aggressive and
rapidly growing kinds of lymphomas maybe the most rapidly growing kind of lymphoma there
is. We have a particular regiment we use for this and we got her started on therapy right
away. Basically they told us that chemo needs to
start tonight. The doctor did come in he said, we think we can cure this. Hearing that totally
changed my outlook and made me think, ok, maybe I am going to be ok. I’ll never forget the one doctor in that
ICU said. This is one that we can cure. If you can be at any hospital, anywhere in the
country for any cancer, this is the best one to have and the best hospital to be in. Doctor
Bierman and the other nurse practitioners on the oncology floor were always just really
great. I could tell they always had my best interest at heart and he reassured me that
I was going to be fine, this is curable, we’ll have you out of here in a few months. Right
when I got to the medical center, my mom was just like, I can’t believe we weren’t
here all this time. The level of care was on a completely different level than what
we experienced at the other hospital. It was so clear that we were at the right place. There is a huge difference between what one
hospital prescribes as the chemotherapy regiment versus another hospital. The Nebraska Medical
Center and I can thank God now that they made a choice to give her this particular chemo
that she got. This is one kind of lymphoma that gets treated
differently than other types of lymphomas. You have to dot the i’s and cross the t’s
because the goal is to cure. I started feeling good and you weren’t supposed
to go out but I was going out because it was summertime. My energy level felt good and
I felt at that point, I kind of new that I was healthy. Once I got the initial all clear
it was just, I knew my life was going to be completely different obviously. A lot of the people I correspond with on these
like the Burkitt’s Lymphoma site on facebook, question where should I be getting treatment?
Even before I tell them, they say they are being sent to Omaha to go to med center. They
will say they have been recommended to see Dr. Bierman and these people are from Kansas
City and a guy from New York. One of the guys from New York said, my friends were saying
aren’t there any specialists in New York? You have to go to Omaha to find a lymphoma
specialist? No one can believe it but people are going to the med center from all over
the country. I feel so fortunate to be treated at The Nebraska
Medical Center. Because my cancer was so rare, it needed to be treated the appropriate way.
So many hospitals don’t put Burkitt’s patients on the chemo regiment that I got
which is really the best one to get. They did everything preventative so the cancer
wouldn’t come back. If it’s cancer or something serious you need to be in the best
care. People come from all over the world. There were patients from all over the world
on my floor, on the oncology floor I was on. I know from all over the United States people
come to the medical center, I can’t believe I was so fortunate to live just 10 minutes
away from a world-renowned hospital. It’s so great to see patients as they go
through their treatment, of course, it’s very difficult. They have a lot of physical
changes that they have to go through, especially for a young person that would be very difficult.
She has done a great job of getting through that and getting on to her next aspect of
life and taking those things that she has learned through her treatment to be able to
help not only herself but other people. It is really gratifying for us to see that happen.
We can take someone and cure them of their lymphoma in this case or other cancers and
be able to get them back to normal life. We have a great team here. When the patients
come in we evaluate them quickly. We are fortunate to have excellent pathology to be able to
give us the answer to what type of problem they have. They have access to all kinds of
new treatments and get the patients on the road to recovery in a very fast time. Not
just with Burkitt’s patients but with every patient. In the Midwest, we would be one of
the premiere lymphoma centers and I think if you ask anyone nationally we would be one
of the premiere lymphoma centers as well. The next step for us is to take what we built
upon on and the base and try to expand upon that with better clinical programs, additional
research opportunities and new therapies and drugs for patients. What the future holds
for us is to try and take the research we have used and developed over the last few
years and develop new therapies for patients. Based upon our research, a lot information
is now being used to develop new therapies for patients. A lot of those therapies are
based upon pathways of cells so we can target those cells just by medications that are against
the lymphoma and not against the normal tissues, so that there are fewer side effects for patients
and that’s really where a lot of our research is going.

18 thoughts on “Beating Burkitt’s Lymphoma – Christen’s Story – The Nebraska Medical Center

  1. A very close friend of mine was diagnosed with Burkitts yesterday.  He travelled from central coast California to San Francisco for treatment. What is the survival rate?  He is in stage 4.  I pray that he is in good hands.

  2. I have a 2 years old boy who is diagnosed with burkitts lymphoma too I need your help about some information did you ever know what was the cause of the cancer? and how did it go with the skin rash and the mouth sore?

  3. My 39-year-old aunt has the same problem, but her body is so weak and is unable the to get the cycles on time. Only injecting fluid to her spinal cord makes her so sick that she only can breathe through the ventilator. I wanted to know is this typical?

  4. Awww…her doctor is so sweet. And he seems to care about what he does and wants to get to the bottom of things! Doctors just aren't like that anymore…..I could imagine getting diagnosed with cancer is devastating. I would definitely feel more at ease with a doctor who is as passionate and easy-going as he seems to be!

  5. I feel like I have this or some type of Lymphoma. I'm from upstate New York and I'm broke because working is so difficult. I had to walk out and quit my job about three weeks ago because I had an embarrassing episode which involved me feeling really confused and then very hyperactive. I feel my organs are enlarged and I have several lumps from my neck and chin, down through my chest into my abs and in my groin. I also have EBV, having mono two years ago and ever since then I've felt so exhausted. Now it's more or less a depression. I have no idea what to do about it considering I can't even afford copays. I'm turning 23 in November and I still live at home. I feel like my life is ending.

  6. My husband has berkitts lymphoma stage four it's aggressive he's had 8 rounds of chemo so far positive news handled chemo well we are concerned that on his 4th round of chemo they took blood from his hand put in spine won't that spread cancer in spine please any info will help

  7. I have Burkitt's lymphoma and my lymphoma has gotten alot smaller with 2 rounds of chemo, 2 years ago I had a stroke and I beat that, now I will beat Burkitt's Lymphoma too. The day after I found out that I had lymphoma I met with the cancer doctor at the VA Hospital, had a bone marrow biopsy and was admitted to the hospital, the 3rd day I had my 1st chemo, and the next 2 days my 2nd and 3rd chemo's.

  8. How can we find out what all this treatment entailed? We would very much like to compare it with what my son is having in Portland. He was in the middle of a more general type of chemo before they knew exactly what type he had. His is Birkitts too. They finished the first chemo round about a week ago. He has a very tenacious pneumonia that is being treated with multiple antibiotics. They don't want to do any other chemos until his antibiotics are finished. He's really weak and quite depressed but tries to move around as much as he can. He's in isolation because of another infection he got. I sure wish I could know he's getting the very best treatment for this unusual type of cancer. It has really crushed our family.

  9. Ah my life. Not diagnosed. Not soaked sheets. No flu. But too tired to work I understand that. Tired and scholiosis…not fair. I wonder if it was my heavy menstruation that caused my anemia… but I stopped periods now with pills so was it? Idk…

  10. I am 34 years old and cleared stage 4 Burkitt's lymphoma and leukemia last year. Unfortunately I am now dealing with side effects and granulomatous disorders of the lymphatic system and possible autoimmune disorders from the cancer and treatment. Trying to stay strong. It is such an inspiration for me to here others have beaten it.

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