Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Three weeks preceeding treatment

Once I was diagnosed in the ER, I was scanned, poked and prodded every which way to determine the extent of my condition over the next three weeks. It would have been pretty neat to experience modern medicine if it had not been under such scary circumstances:

Saturday: In the ER I had a chest X-Ray and a contrast CT.

Monday: I had a Fine Needle Aspiration biopsy that suggested Diffuse Large Cell B Lymphoma but was considered ultimately inconclusive.

The rest of the time is a blur, so I don't remember the order. But, I had an MRI on my head (all clear), a bone marrow biopsy (also all clear), another biopsy that required surgery to remove a lymph node (this one seemed to confirm the diagnosis), a MUGA to test my heart which was where I thought I had a problem...turned out I had the best reading there, and a PET scan which left some question about my staging. Dr. Vrana seems to feel that I am a stage III.

The Diagnosis - Treatment - Prognosis

Diffuse Large Cell B Lymphoma is the consensus, but there is still some question that it may be Primary Mediastinal Lymphoma. The stage is in question, but Dr. Vrana feels comfortable calling me a stage III.

Either way both are treated with R-CHOP which I receive every 3 weeks for up to 8 treatments maximum (hopefully only 6 for me).

The prognosis is somewhere between 50-65% for a 5 year survival rate....once past 5 years, you are considered cured.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Story

I have had chest pains and an irregular heartbeat over the past few years. I've had it checked by EKG several times and nothing turned up. I've been told that over 70% of people have an irregular heartbeat that is not a health risk, so I stopped worrying about it.

I decided to get into shape after Walker turned 2 and I could not blame him for my weight gain anymore :) I began jogging, doing yoga and pilates. My goal was to run the Peachtree in 2007. I was ready.

Two weeks before the race I began to have chest pains accompanied by a shooting pain in my arm. It was sporadic. I had 3 physicals this year and appeared to be in the best shape of my adult life, so I ignored it. I was still running and figured I pulled something while stretching.

Friday before the race. I woke with a severe headache along with the chest pain and shooting pain down my arm. My mother suggested that I have it checked before the race. I figured I would call the doctor on Monday.

Saturday. I had a vibration in my chest that could be felt from the outside. It would not go away. Stephen strongly encouraged me to go to the ER and so I did. I did not think I was having a heart attack, but figured they would find something irregular that I might need to address with my primary care physician.

The ARMC ER did treat me like a potential heart attack. They rushed me in and hooked me up. To everyone's relief, I was completely clear. The mood was light hearted and jovial. They then treated me for indigestion. The vibration and chest pain was still there.

The ER doctor encouraged me to have just one more test.....a chest x-ray. The mood changed as it turned out they found something. At this point, I did not realize how "big and scary" the something was. They took me for a dye CT and again the mood was grim.

I could tell Dr. Cassity did not want to deliver the news. I was alone....assuming it was no big deal I urged Stephen to keep Walker at home and not traumatize him with an ER visit. Somehow, Dr. Cassity found a very comforting way to give me the news that I had Lymphoma and would not be running (jogging) the Peachtree.

Stephen has now forbidden me to go to the ER without him!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

First Time Blogging

OK, here goes my first blog entry. Thank you Jon for getting me set up!!!

My most important message is to thank everyone for their calls, cards, flowers, food, prayers and support. We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful support system! It has really given us strength.

Mickey has just sent out an email with an update, so there isn't much new here yet.

This first blog is just a test drive to see if I can keep up with the real world of technology :)