Doctors Ignored My Symptoms for Three Years Before I Was Diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma

By Jessica DeCristofaro as told to Faith Brar
Jessica DeCristofaro shares her painful journey and urges women to be advocates for their own health.
Jessica DeCristofaro shares her painful journey and urges women to be advocates for their own health.

Photo: Instagram/@jessdechris

At the beginning of 2014, I was your average American girl in her 20's with a steady job, living up my life without a worry in the world. I had been blessed with great health and always made working out and eating well a priority. Other than the occasional sniffles here and there, I'd barely been to a doctor's office my entire life. That all changed when I developed a mysterious cough that simply wouldn't go away.

Constantly Misdiagnosed

I first saw a doctor when my cough really started to act up. I'd never experienced anything like it before, and being in sales, constantly hacking up a storm was less than ideal. My primary care physician was the first to turn me away, saying it was just allergies. I was given some over the counter allergy meds and sent home.

Months passed, and my cough got progressively worse. I saw one or two more doctors and was told that there was nothing wrong with me, given more allergy medication, and turned away. It got to a point where coughing became second nature to me. Several doctors had told me that I had nothing to worry about, so I learned to ignore my symptom and move on with my life.

Over two years later, though, I started to develop other symptoms as well. I started waking up every night because of night sweats. I lost 20 pounds, without making any changes to my lifestyle. I had routine, severe abdominal pain. It became clear to me that something in my body wasn't right. (Related: I Was Fat Shamed By My Doctor and Now I'm Hesitant to Go Back)