• Cancer Patient Stories

    My story – Alicia Austerman

When I was 18 years old, I noticed a small lump on my right forearm. I went to my primary care physician and was told it was nothing to worry about. Within one month, five more lumps formed on my right arm. My physician scheduled me for a biopsy and due to complications. I ended up in the emergency room the very next night. My arm had turned purple and blue and swelled to twice its size. After the biopsy, I was referred to multiple different physicians, and none of them could figure out what was wrong with my arm.

After three months I was beginning to lose hope of regaining my normal college life, when someone told me about the Mayo Clinic. The next day I called and scheduled an appointment with a dermatologist named Dr. Conroy. I honestly cannot say how glad I am to have met Dr. Conroy. His attitude and personality could make anyone feel better.

After meeting, Dr.Conroy suggested another biopsy, which made me extremely nervous due to my previous experience. He reassured me that everything was going to be okay and that he would take great care of me. He kept his promise, and the biopsy went great! A few days later, I went back to the Mayo Clinic with my mother to hear the results. When the word "lymphoma" came out of Dr. Conroy's mouth, my mother began to tear up, and I knew it was bad. Dr.Conroy once again said that he would take the absolute best care of me and promised to refer me to a great oncologist.

He ended up referring me to Dr.Reeder who is also an amazing physician. He was very kind and answered every question my mother and I had. He formally diagnosed me with Non-Hodkins Subcutaneous T-cell Panniculitis-like Lymphoma, a very rare form of cancer. After six months of chemotherapy and one month of radiation, Dr.Reeder told me I was cancer free!

I am now 26 years old and have been in remission for eight years! I recently married my high school sweetheart (who was always by my side throughout treatment) and will be graduating this December with a Masters of Science in Global Medicine from the University of Southern California. The excellent care I received from Dr. Conroy and Dr. Reeder inspired both my husband and myself to become physicians. RJ (my husband) is in his second year of medical school at KECK School of Medicine of USC, where I will also soon be applying. My hope is to one day help others in the same way that Dr. Conroy and Dr. Reeder helped me.