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16 Nov

Nicole Bullock Attributed Her Extreme Fatigue And Throat Pain

Michelle Dokes Photography

When Chicago native Nicole Bullock first noticed that she wasn’t feeling like her normal self in the summertime of 2016, she wasn’t initially nervous. She simply attributed it to the conventional wear and tear of being a wife and mother of three who was lively in her community. However the symptoms weren’t just normal fatigue. It was extreme tiredness, along with weight reduction, night sweats and “a sensation that something was consistently stuck in my throat,” she tells ESSENCE. When she attempted to take a step back from some commitments and care for herself, things only got worse.

“The fatigue intensified and I started quickly losing a major amount of weight although I could not work out,” she says. “Nevertheless it was the uncomfortable feeling in my throat that prompted me to contact my doctor.”

Directed to the ER when her primary care physician was unavailable, doctors initially thought she just had acid reflux disease and gave her medication to cope with it. A second opinion would yield the identical answers and same end result: the discomfort continued. She finally saw her primary care physician in September 2016, who ordered her to undergo a CT scan as her throat pain became difficulty respiration while attempting to sleep. What was found was a mass the dimensions of an eggplant in her chest. When it was tested, she soon was diagnosed with Stage 2b mediastinal diffuse large B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

“I went from acid reflux disease to blood cancer, and it took three doctors and me advocating for myself to get the proper diagnosis,” she says.

She would undergo treatment over the course of a yr. It included a mix of eight rounds of in-patient intravenous chemotherapy, 4 rounds of intrathecal chemotherapy and 17 rounds of radiation to get her declared as having No Evidence of Disease (NED). Something integral in that treatment plan was blood transfusions.

“Most individuals get chemo for a couple of hours and go home. Nevertheless, since the cancer was so aggressive doctors treated it as such, which left my body depleted of red blood cells and platelets,” she says, noting that she could be hospitalized for five consecutive days for every cycle of chemotherapy. “When red blood cells are low it impairs the body’s ability to deliver oxygen from the lungs to other organs resulting in fatigue and shortness of breath. Having low platelets may cause severe bleeding issues and stop blood from clotting properly. The transfusions built my blood supply back up and ensured I might not experience any hemorrhaging during treatment.”

When Bullock learned that there was no presence of the disease in her body after her intense treatment, she created a foundation. Nicole Cares helps bring awareness of this way of cancer to the Black community in addition to support to those battling it. Knowing the role that the provision of blood and platelets had on the end result of her situation, Bullock holds an annual blood drive in Chicago to make sure people ready she once found herself in won’t go without.

“Hosting blood drives is our way of paying it forward, ensuring others have blood available when needed,” she says. “For me personally, I share my journey to provide God the glory for healing my body and provides others hope.”  

Nicole Bullock Attributed Her Extreme Fatigue And Throat Pain To Her Busy Life As A Mom. It Turned Out To Be Blood Cancer.
Michelle Dokes Photography

She also goals to provide hope through her foundation’s programs, like Hope to Hospitals, where volunteers visit patients, offering them prayer and dropping off care packages. There’s also “The Aftermath” support group for survivors of all types of cancer to assist each other navigate life after cancer and to share the challenges of survivorship. Along with that, she created a coloring book throughout the pandemic, If I Be Lifted Up, while eager about cancer patients who weren’t allowed visitors. She quickly realized that it may gain advantage many others generally isolated attributable to Covid.

“I learned that patients were battling cancer alone. No visitors were allowed.  My heart immediately went out to them because I remembered how necessary it was for me to have visits from my family and friends while I used to be hospitalized. I asked God to provide me something to assist people, and he gave me the thought for If I Be Lifted Up,” she says, adding that the book, sold on Amazon and with a portion of proceeds going to Nicole Cares, is crammed with intricate designs and Bible scriptures to entertain and encourage.

“The coloring book was originally created with cancer patients in mind, but then God showed me that folks were affected by depression and loneliness from sheltering in place, so I should make it available for anyone that needed uplifting,” she adds.

But of the various ways Bullock seeks to assist people, nothing is more center of mind for her presently than the third annual blood drive, happening in Chicagoland in September for Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Because blood isn’t something that may me manufactured, donations are incredibly necessary, and straight away, extremely crucial, as donations have been down within the pandemic and lots of blood banks are operating at low levels. She hopes efforts like this can help change that.

“Every two seconds someone within the U.S. needs a blood transfusion attributable to trauma, cancer, complications with pregnancy, sickle-cell anemia, etc,” Bullock says. “Many elective surgeries and other procedures for which blood transfusions could also be required are even being postponed. We’re experiencing a nationwide blood shortage and we’d like everyone that may donate to accomplish that. Please give the gift of life.”

Nicole Cares Foundation and Faith Movers Church shall be hosting the threerd Annual Blood Drive with Versiti Blood Centers on Saturday, September 17, 2022, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. CT at Faith Movers Church situated at 425 Exchange St., University Park, IL.  For those within the Chicagoland or Northwest Indiana, please go to www.nicolecares.org to schedule an appointment or call 1-800-7-TO-GIVE with any questions.  Should you are situated outside of this area, please contact Versiti or your nearest blood center and donate blood.

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