Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone!

Today's been pretty good. My mouth pain has subsided somewhat, and now I just feel achy like I have the flu. Minor stuff for now, and I'm in good spirits.

Even though I was tired, I managed to get up and go out trick-or-treating with my kids. That was fun, and glad I did.

Work is hellish for the next week, and I'm not pleased. I have three days scheduled with 4 hour meetings in the morning and afternoon - Meaning I'm working from 7AM until around 6PM this week. Not very good on the body. My work is pretty much office stuff, so it won't be too bad, but I wish it wasn't so concentrated.

How to describe chemotherapy so far? I'm tired. Not "I can't walk another step" tired (I do a 1/2 mile walk each way from my train station to the office in downtown Philly), but "Its 7PM but feels like midnight" tired. I'm ready to crash now (and with the early morning tomorrow, I just might).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Beginning

"I am waiting for you Vizzini! You told me to go back to the beginning, so I have."
-Inigo, "The Princess Bride"

Where to start? Well, let's start with hello. My name is Steve, and I'm a 34 year old typical guy with an office job, married, and two kids (12 and 3). What's NOT so typical is that I found out out on October 1st that I have lymphoma. Since I have a month of catching up to do, this will be a LONG post :-)

I should start by saying that in the spring, I hit 300 pounds. Office work plus food didn't really help my body much. However, hitting 300 pounds scared the crap out of me - So I started watching calories very closely, and started exercising. In a matter of 4 months, I lost about 50-60 pounds (before you start thinking it, it was NOT related to the cancer -- I put on 10 when I found out, and my wife lost 40 in the same timeframe, ha!).

In August, I noticed a bit of puffiness over my right collarbone. I figured it was a muscle pull from my workouts, and didn't think anything of it. A few weeks later, and it didn't go away, I figured it time to see the doctor.

My family doctor is awesome; We moved, and still travel 30 minutes to get to his office since we like him so much. I felt kinda whimpy for seeing him about a muscle pull, but I figured what the hell. He took a look and immediately said it was a fatty cyst, and no big deal. Then, he paused for a second, and asked me "Hey, if I sent you for a test, would you go? I don't think its anything, but I'd rather be safe." His precaution may have saved my life (to be determined yet, ha ha). So, I went for a CT scan on Monday, October 1st.

CT scan technicians are not poker players. This was obvious as I went in joking and laughing with the two technicians, but when they came to take me out of the machine it was like a graveyard. I knew something was up, to the point that I called my doc about it and asked him to give me a call back.

7:30PM that night, I got a call. Its never a good thing to get a call from a doctor at night. I'll always remember the words "Steve, its bad news, it looks like you have lymphoma. Its in your neck as well as your chest." My wife started crying, and I don't remember much beyond that. Luckily, my doc was on top of it and gave me a name and number, telling me to see this oncologist the next day, and that if I couldn't get an appointment to call him back immediately.

So, I did get an appointment with my oncologist (who we LOVE) at the Paoli Cancer Center. I won't go into the boring details, but in the last three weeks I've had multiple CTs, a PET scan, a biopsy, and a port-a-cath inserted for treatment. My hospital system has been nothing if not fast and on the ball.

So what's the bottom line?

I have Stage II ax Hodgkin's Lymphoma. As far as lymphomas (and most cancers) go, this is a "good" one to get. "Good" is relative, as I will state firsthand that cancer sucks, and even with this "good" one, too many people die. However, Stage II ax means that I'm considered early disease, with nodes only in my neck and chest (good thing), I'm "a" as I have no symptoms (good thing), but I have bulky disease in the chest, with the mass there being 10cm x 9cm (not so good thing). I'm right on the borderline for being considered bulky, but it is what it is. I had a second opinion at Fox Chase Cancer Center, and they don't even consider that a negative prognosticator -- Only that it means I will have radiation when done.

Last Friday, I started the first of 6 cycles (12 treatments) of ABVD chemotherapy, which will be followed by a course of radiation. This should give me about a 85 - 90+% chance of CURE. I like the sound of that. I'd prefer 100%, but I'll take what I can get.

I'll keep everyone in the loop on how I feel, and how things progress.