Some of you know or have surmised that I have been having some health issues. Actually the past 3 years have been rife with challenges, this is just the latest. :}
Last year turned into a bit of a nightmare with one thing after another. Nothing horrible, just ongoing.
Eventually there were just two things concerning me - on-going fatigue (which was supposed to have been cured with the angioplasty, but wasn't) and unstable blood pressure.
In the fall my doctor threw up his hands in frustration and strongly advised me to simply increase my bp meds.
I pointed out that, in the previous 2.5 years, every time my bp had gone wonky there had been an underlying problem. Could we find out what it was this time?
As a last ditch effort he wrote a requisition for a CT scan of my kidneys.
Turns out the kidneys were fine - the lymph nodes - not so much.
The next few months various and sundry tests were run and as usual all came back negative or 'within normal tolerances'. (Don't you just love that phrase?)
In February my doctor referred me to the cancer clinic. This time the answer was not negative.
The day before I left for Madrona I was told that the most likely culprit was NHL. No, my dear fellow Canucks, that does not refer to the National Hockey League but to Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
Returning from Madrona I had another CT scan, with a follow up PET scan scheduled for March 17.
While ignorance may be bliss, knowledge is empowering. Although I don't have all the answers yet, there is enough to share.
First of all, the oncologist believes that what I have is a non-aggressive form of lymphoma, which means slow disease progression. So far the only symptom I have is fatigue. The second bit of good news is the very early diagnosis, thanks to my family doctor believing me when I said something was wrong and going the extra mile to run tests that eventually led to the diagnosis.
I am also blessed in having an oncologist who is not letting any grass grow under his feet in getting answers. There are 30 different cancers under the NHL umbrella. Once the biopsy is done identifying which one I have they will be able to formulate a plan for treatment. Since the diagnosis is so early, one option may be to simply monitor the situation. Other options are chemotherapy or radiation, or a combination of the two.
Ultimately, because of the early diagnosis there is no rush to treat, and any treatment can be fitted in and around my life so I do not expect this situation to have a great impact on my life as a whole (although chemo may not be much fun, strides have been made in terms of the cocktails they concoct and treating the adverse affects).
I have run the usual gamut of emotions - shock, disbelief, outright denial (no, this isn't, can't, be happening to me), rage and acceptance.
While I don't know what the future holds - none of us do, really - I do know that - with the help and support of my friends - I will get through this, too.
I have adopted Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" as my anthem. If you haven't ever listened to the lyrics, especially the chorus, today might be a good day to do so. http://3.ly/8b42
With apologies to Bon Jovi - this is my life. I'm going to live it while I'm alive.
Thank you for letting me vent. There will be challenging days ahead. As mentioned the PET scan is booked for March 17 - the day before Fibres West. I could have had it done sooner, but combining the scan with Fibres West saved a trip to Vancouver (9+ hours each way). March 23rd I'll have a bone marrow biopsy done. If that is inconclusive they will do an excision of one of the affected nodes.
One day at a time, one test at a time, the answers will come. Thank you for your expressions of concern. They have meant a great deal to me.
Bottom line is this - I am looking forward to many more years of playing with string. I will be faxing the contract to John C. Campbell for next March in a few moments. I will look forward to travelling and visiting with some of you, sharing our love for fibres and textiles. Living with lymphoma will be a lot like living with any other chronic condition - eating and resting properly, exercising, avoiding bad stress and looking forward to what each day will bring.