Patient Stories

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Survivor

Melissa VanLoo

  • Hodgkin’s Lymphoma SurvivorDiagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 16 
  • Received treatment at Seattle Children’s 
  • Attends SCCA Survivorship Clinic 

Melissa VanLoo was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in 1998 when she was 16 years old.

“I had just started dating my husband a few months before I was diagnosed,” says Melissa recalling that overwhelming fatigue “beyond compare” was the symptom that sent her to the doctor. “I had a bad sinus infection that I couldn’t beat, which they were treating with strong antibiotics. They did some blood work then that led them to the cancer diagnosis.”

Melissa was admitted to Seattle Children's (then called Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center) right away. In a whirlwind of surgery and six months of chemotherapy treatment, Melissa says that she was always very comfortable and at ease with the care she received.

As part of her follow-up care, Melissa attended the ACCESS Clinic at Children’s, which is an acronym for the clinic’s name: After Cancer Care Ends Survivorship Starts (ACCESS).

The ACCESS Clinic offers treatment, support, and education for pediatric cancer survivors and their families. They help educate a child’s primary care physicians and other relevant people in the years following a child’s cancer treatment. When Melissa turned 23 in 2006 however, she’d outgrown the coverage of the ACCESS Clinic and joined the SCCA Survivorship Clinic.

“SCCA specializes in cancer care and they know my medications and cancer diagnosis inside and out,” says Melissa. “I come to the Survivorship Clinic once a year for a couple of hours to make sure that I’m OK. They go over the meds that I took and we talk about any long-term latent effects from those medications. I have blood work and scans done, too.”

The Survivorship Clinic is designed to meet the unique health care needs of long-term cancer survivors and to keep them healthy. There are physical and emotional complications that can come after cancer and its treatments, including long-term physical health effects to the body organs or emotional effects like sadness, or school and work problems. For most survivors, these late effects are minimal. With education, help, and support, survivors can take charge of their health and manage, or prevent, these problems.

“They think I’m in the clear now,” Melissa says, who is now a stay-at-home mother of two children. The SCCA Survivorship Clinic is a “good fit all around for me, and my peace of mind.”