In the days leading up to her cousin’s wedding, Rhiannon Douglas, 21, made a point of grooming herself a little better for the special occasion. Her dress was short and would show her legs, so she reminded herself to shave beforehand.
A few days later, however, Douglas noticed that there was a rash spreading across her legs. She figured she’d been too hasty or rough with her razor and given herself a razor burn, but assumed it would heal in time.
But when the rash began to spread, Douglas panicked. “I…thought it was meningitis and went straight to the doctor,” she said. “My legs were constantly burning, I could only wear loose fitted clothes and I couldn’t wear shoes…”
Douglas’ doctors were unable to determine what precisely was causing the problem. She didn’t have meningitis, but it also wasn’t just a razor burn.
For the next six months, Douglas went to various doctors, all of whom were unable to give her the correct diagnosis of her problems.
It was only when Douglas nearly collapsed from pain in her joints and chest that she was rushed to the emergency room, where doctors finally discovered what was wrong.
Douglas had a massive 8.5-centimeter tumor growing in her chest. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancer of the body’s lymphatic, or immune, system.
She had no clue how to respond. “I never thought I would hear those words at just 20 years old,” she said. “But I was determined to fit it and…change my lifestyle around, I wanted to do everything I could to get better.”
Since Douglas’ diagnosis, she has adopted a vegan lifestyle in hopes of changing her life around through natural means. She’s seen her doctor regularly every month and thankfully, scans show that her tumor has begun to reduce in size.
Although Douglas’ path to recovery now seems relatively clear, she has made a point of speaking out about her diagnosis. “'I would urge anyone to get themselves checked out if they are unsure of anything as you just never know what it might be.
“But I also think it's also really important not to put a death sentence on the word cancer, I have a really positive outlook and I'm hoping to be in remission by the summer.”