After the birth of her son in May 2009, 28 year old Roz Barnwell from Frankley was finding returning to normal very difficult.  After he was born, she celebrated with a glass of champagne and noticed a bit of a shoulder pain but dismissed it as nothing. By July she realised she was experiencing pain each time she had even a few sips of wine and googled the strange symptom. All she came up with was Hodgkins Lymphoma and made the first visit to her GP who had never heard of the symptom and sent her home. Roz says “I refrained from mentioning ‘The Hodge’ as I didn’t want to sound like a know it all!”

A week later, she was back. “This time, I went in armed with a case study I had found basically about a guy who’d had the same symptoms as me, and even though bloods were coming back clear, he was still diagnosed with Hodgkin’s once he’d had a chest xray. The doc just glanced over this, and sent me for some bloods anyway. When the bloods came back normal, he told me to come back in a few months if it was still happening. Well it stopped happening, because I stopped drinking, because every time I drank it hurt – notice the vicious circle here?”

Roz didn’t drink alcohol again for months, until at a family meal at her home she fancied a glass of Rose. “I just took two sips and had to go and have a lie down, the pain was that intense.” So began a flurry of  GP appointments, more blood tests, chest Xrays, scans, hospital visits & surgery for the planned (and abandoned!) removal of a suspected (non-existent!) benign cyst in her chest.

In February 2010, following her surgery , Roz was given the diagnosis she had suspected for some months: she had Nodular Sclerosis Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This was the start of a “Whole New World” for her, and she started a new blog the next day, with the first post being give that title.

“I knew I would have people asking about my progress, treatments etc, and I didn’t want to be sending the same emails, or having the same conversations with everyone all the time. That’s why I decided to start the blog.” Roz says, “It also gave me somewhere to rant and get all my feelings down without someone trying to analyse a conversation. I think it has helped me, but more than that, I hope it helps others that are in the same situation that I was, and to let them know you can come out of the other side ok.”

Through her blog ‘kin Hodgkin’s & her facebook page, Roz has documented her journey through  months of treatment to battle the disease. Through sharing her experiences, she has given other sufferers, their friends and relatives and the wider public an insight into living with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Roz has been nominated and shortlisted in the Lymphoma Association’s Beacon of Hope Awards for her efforts in raising awareness of lymphoma.

“I was so surprised that I’d been nominated, let alone short-listed for the Beacon of Hope award. The award is for raising awareness of lymphoma. Every knows about the obvious cancers, lung, breast etc, but no one really knows anything about lymphoma, some people don’t even realise it’s a cancer, so as far as I’m concerned, I haven’t done anything amazing or out of the ordinary, I just want people to know about it!”

Well, we think Roz is a pretty amazing (and humble!) lady! The award ceremony takes place on September 16th at London Zoo and we wish her the very best of luck and hope she has a fabulous evening!


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