Photo Courtesy Kate Maupin
Kate Maupin shown after recovering from cancer.
The doctor paused at the doorway after Kate Maupin's mother, Wendy, asked whether the lump in Kate's neck was a cyst, similar to the one her sister once had.
"Oh no, it's not a cyst. It's cancer." The doctor said.
Maupin vividly remembers what her mother's face looked like when her doctor said this. It was as if someone had slapped her.
But Maupin took the news calmly, if disbelievingly.
"Did he just tell me I had cancer?" She asked her mom when the doctor left the room. After her mother nodded yes, she laid her head back down on the examination chair she was on and stared up at the ceiling.
On the same day Maupin was bluntly told she had cancer, she was told that it was lymphoma. However, they didn't know what subtype of lymphoma she had, or how far along she had progressed.
Maupin was going to face hardships for the next year while she battled cancer, but she was determined to not let it change her life.
It began a few days before Christmas in 2004 when Maupin, 19, discovered a lump in her throat. She thought nothing of it, figuring it wasn't serious. She was on winter break after her third semester of school at the University of Maine, where she was studying education, and didn't want to deal with doctors during her vacation. But after finding more lumps on the back of her neck, she decided it was time for an examination. She scheduled an appointment for late-January, where she found out exactly what she had.
The 11 days after finding out she had cancer were very scary, she said.
"You have lymphoma, don't know what kind, and you have plenty of time to go online and look up all the different blood diseases and look at what they to do you."
Maupin had Hodgkin's lymphoma. By the time she started treatment in early March, the lymphoma had progressed to its third stage, which meant the cancer had spread throughout her body and into her spleen. Her doctor's had to act fast so her disease wouldn't progress to its fourth and final stage in which her cancer would spread to her bone marrow, liver, or lungs.
Her treatment was standard chemotherapy. A catheter was inserted into her chest, leaving a scar that remains to this day. Once every two weeks chemicals would be pumped into her body that would fight her cancer, but also wreck havoc on her body.
Throughout her treatment she had a pervasive feeling of weakness. She never felt like going up staircases because it was too tiring. She looked sickly all the time and her skin was always pale and blotchy. She gained 30 pounds over the course of her treatment, this she attributed to the effectiveness of anti-nausea medication. Her hair, which had grown to her waist when she started treatment, began to fall out.