With Daffodil Day tomorrow, one local cancer survivor says go to the doctor — and go again.
Balclutha woman Amy Ewald was visiting family in Malaysia in 2019 when she discovered she had an itch.
It had started on her legs, hands and arms, and progressed into a full body itch.
Assuming heat rash in a damp and humid country, she left it for a few weeks.
But when the itch couldn’t be scratched, she went to the doctor.
Doctors considered scabies, to her surprise, so she went home with medication to treat herself and her family, who she thought she could have passed it on to.
But they didn’t have scabies.
And neither did Amy.
The itch continued, along with a nasty cough she couldn’t shake, so Amy went back to the doctor.
She received topical steroids from a dermatologist and headed back to New Zealand.
Unable to sleep in her own bed and wear anything but fleece on her body, she was in ‘‘constant agony.’’
‘‘I tore my back open on a Shakti mat because I was scratching so much,’’ she said.
Her doctor prescribed her short term oral steroids to reset her body.
‘‘They worked like magic,’’ she said.
‘‘Within a week, the itch stopped and the small rash I had disappeared.’’
‘‘It was so relieving.’’
Upon completing the steroid course and weaning herself off, she thought it was over.
But the itch came back worse than ever.
‘‘It was about triple the intensity of the first itch,’’ she said.
‘‘I couldn’t function.’’
Her doctor gave her countless medications, including antihistamines and sleeping pills, which did not fix the problem.
It was one day in January she was washing her neck in the shower when she felt an odd lump.
‘‘I wiped the condensation from the mirror and sure enough, I didn’t have it on both sides,’’ she said.
Amy got her husband to have a look at what they described as a ‘‘soft, fleshy lump.’’
She went back to her doctor once again, knowing something was wrong.
‘‘He thought it was my lymph nodes swelling, which can be very normal.’’
‘‘I was prescribed another round of the short term steroids and referred for an ultrasound, so I was going to wait until I got results from that before starting again.’’
When informed she wouldn’t be able to get an ultrasound until at least until June, she went private and got in a week later.
‘‘I received a call the next morning. If you get a call so soon it means something is usually wrong.’’
She was seen the week after for biopsies of the lump.
The week after that, Amy was diagnosed with advanced stage Hodgkins Lymphoma.
‘‘Weirdly enough, for me it was a relief,’’ she said.
‘‘There was six months of uncertainty and agony. As awful as the diagnosis was, I was also just relieved that there was an explanation.’’
Her doctor explained the steroid course had worked like ‘‘magic’’ because they were part of the chemotherapy regime.
She had six rounds of chemotherapy, and was in remission six months after her final round.
She said a humbling moment for her was asking for help.
‘‘I grew up in a family who helped others — not asked for help from others,’’ she said.
‘‘I had a friend who helped set up a Givealittle page, which was when I learned to set my pride and ego aside and accept help.’’
She said her children, Lucas and Holly, helped her maintain a positive attitude.
‘‘I told them I just had to finish bags of IV medicine, and I would be better. And I began believing it myself. So they definitely got me through.’’
She said help from friends, the community and the Cancer Society during a Covid-19 diagnosis was greatly appreciated.
‘‘If I was to give someone a message it would be that it’s OK to ask for help and do everything you want to do.
‘‘Be kind to yourself, and give yourself lots of grace.’’