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Beating Burkitt's Lymphoma - Christen's Story

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Posted 2/18/2015

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Omaha, Neb - Christen Nino De Guzman knew she was sick. The 21-year-old student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was sleeping all day and missing class because she felt so tired. She assumed she had the flu.

"I went to a hospital in Lincoln and they told me I was anemic," said Nino De Guzman. "But in the next few weeks, I developed horrible night sweats -- my sheets and clothes would just be soaked."

She soon ended up in an emergency room and was given antibiotics for bronchitis. Unfortunately, she continued to get sicker.

"I finished school for the summer and was back home in Omaha," she said. "My mom took me to a hospital here and they discovered I had tumors throughout my abdomen. But after two weeks of testing, they still didn't have a definitive diagnosis. Meanwhile, my stomach was blowing up like I was seven months pregnant. Doctors thought it was from all the fluids I was getting, but in reality it was the tumors tripling in size."

That's when her mom had Christen transferred to The Nebraska Medical Center. "Immediately, there was a team of doctors around my bed trying to figure out what was wrong," said Nino De Guzman. "Within a day or two, they told me I had a type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma called Burkitt's lymphoma. I remember one of the E.R. doctors telling me they thought it was stage four, but he said 'I think we can cure this.' I would cling to those words for the next four months."

"The kind of lymphoma Christen had accounts for only 1% of adult lymphomas," said Philip Bierman, MD, hematologist/oncologist at The Nebraska Medical Center and one of the physicians who treated Christen. "It requires aggressive chemotherapy, but it can be extremely difficult to diagnose and there are other kinds of lymphoma that can be confused with it."

"Patients like Christen should be treated at a place that has the experience with the chemotherapy that's required for this lymphoma," said Dr. Bierman. "In this part of the country, we probably have the most experience with it."

After several rounds of intense and complex chemotherapy, Christen was recently declared cancer-free. She just returned from a trip to New York City and has big plans for the future.

"I feel so thankful to live so close to the number one hospital in the world for treating my kind of lymphoma," said Nino De Guzman. "It's a place where people come from all over the world to get treated. This will definitely be a special Thanksgiving for my family and me."

For more information about lifesaving lymphoma treatment call 1-800-922-0000.