As you all know, yesterday was my surgery. Frank was kind enough to fill you all in because I could barely carry on a conversation with my visitors without falling asleep midway through a sentence. The sedatives also had the unpleasant effect of making me sick to my stomach. Throwing up after abdominal surgery is stupidly painful. Let’s never do that again.
Aside from that minor set back, the surgery itself went well. I was lucky enough to not require a laparotomy (where they open you up with one long incision instead of making a couple of small incisions for a laparascopy). So I have three small incisions of unknown dimensions on my abdomen because they are covered in gauze.
Yesterday on my way to the hospital for the surgery I received a phone call that I decided not to tell anyone about. The receptionist on the oncology floor told me that I had an appointment the next morning to go over my PET scan results and my bone marrow biopsy. I’m not sure why I didn’t tell anyone… I just has a feeling that I should keep it to myself. I’m glad I did because I have had a little time to digest the information and let it leek out to important loved ones before getting dozens of emails and text messages asking me what the results of the tests were. The results were not as good as I had hoped. My bone marrow tested positive for lymphoma which means that I am a stage IV. The long diagnosis is stage IV follicular non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Fortunately, a stage IV lymphoma diagnosis doesn’t carry the same weight as, for example, a stage IV melanoma diagnosis. Melanoma at a stage IV is basically terminal. There isn’t much that can be done at that point. On the other hand, a stage 4 lymphoma usually still responds quite well to treatment. Remission is very likely. My doctor is optimistic that with 6 cycles of R-CHOP chemotherapy (each cycle has a duration of 21 days) I should go into remission. He also said that should a relapse occur, that a bone marrow transplant would be the best option for me. I know we aren’t at that point yet but you have ALL asked me at one point or another what you could do for me… So here it is: if you aren’t registered as a bone marrow donor, do it now. All it requires is a mouth swab. It’s that easy. If I do end up needing a transplant, it will be better if you all are already registered. And if I don’t need a bone marrow transplant, you may end up saving someone else’s life.
So what’s next? My nurse will see me as soon as I’m feeling better to “teach me”. I’m not sure what this entails but those are her words. She is a very kind and compassionate nurse. I will have an appointment for a MUGA scan which is a scan to check the function of my heart because one of the drugs they give is hard on the heart. I will also have either a PICC line or a portacath put in. Chemo will be starting as soon as possible. It’s a lot to take in.
When I got home from the hospital I was tired and in quite a bit of pain so I took two dilaudid and tried to go to bed. Finding a comfortable position was difficult. My back, shoulders, chest, and abdomen were all hurting so bad and moving around caused extremely painful spasms. Finally the pain and frustration caught up with me and I cried for the first time since they found the tumor. I did eventually manage to get comfortable (it required about 7 pillows) and I fell asleep for an hour or so. I am concerned about attempting to go back to bed tonight.
I told Frank today that I feel like I am living someone else’s life. How can this be happening? How could I be diagnosed with cancer 20 years after my sister was diagnosed with hers? It’s a strange feeling – I knew I had cancer but somehow having it confirmed just feels different.
Click here to learn more about registering.
And share this blog with everyone you know so they can register as a donor too.