Kerry Van Nort Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Diagnosis at 29

I first learned about DetecTogether and its early cancer detection mission in college. A representative came to our event planning class to teach us how to recognize the early warning signs of cancer and how to advocate for our own healthcare.

I remember DetecTogether saying, ‘If you feel something, say something.’ That stuck with me.

Years later, at 29, I noticed a lump on my neck and felt some pain. I thought I had slept on my neck wrong or pulled a muscle. I also noticed fatigue. I felt healthy prior and knew these symptoms weren’t typical, ‘my great’. The fatigue was something I had never experienced before, and I felt like I had been hit by a bus. My parents also knew about DetecTogether’s early cancer detection roadmap, as one of their neighbors works there. My mom was the one that really prompted me to go to the doctor. My mom came to visit while I was working from home, and she noticed the heating pad on my couch and asked if my back was hurting. I told her my neck had been bothering me for a few weeks. She recommended that I call the doctor and so I did. I am grateful my mom persuaded me.  
Once I called the doctor, I had blood work done right away. I was then told that I needed CAT scans, PET scans, and biopsies to determine my diagnosis. The initial obstacle I faced was being told I would have to wait months for the tests, but my family convinced me that I needed to have the tests done sooner and to seek more immediate follow-up. I got a second opinion at a cancer center and was able to have the tests done sooner. I am glad I did not wait. That was the most important decision I made. 

Early detection is so important. I remember telling my oncologist that I almost waited months to be seen and he said months could have changed things a lot. I was diagnosed at stage 2 and thankful the cancer had not progressed to later stages. Acting quickly and advocating for myself is part of DetecTogether’s 3 Steps Detect and I’m glad I took these steps.  

In conclusion, I realized I knew my body more than anyone and knew when something wasn’t right. Being tired happens, but feeling like you got hit by a bus and exhausted for weeks is different. I waited 3 weeks instead of the 2-week rule DetecTogether teachers because I feared what might have been wrong. Thankfully, I didn’t wait, and my cancer was caught early, when it was most treatable. Sharing with your doctor and being honest is so important, and I am proud of doing just that. Listen to your body. Go to the doctor right away when something seems wrong. Know you can get through whatever you might face. You are stronger than you think.   


  • Lump on neck, neck pain, fatigue