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

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

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)