Hello friends and family,I hope you had wonderful holiday celebrations, and cannot wait to hear of them and see pictures! Jason and I had the fortune of spending Christmas at our house in Greensboro with both of my parents, and enjoyed some amazing meals, games, and quality time.
I am unfortunately otherwise writing for a less happy purpose. Over the past year or so, I had several lymph nodes in the left supraclavicular region of my neck start to enlarge at abnormal rates and to abnormal sizes. Back on December 1st, I met an internal surgeon for evaluation and started the process of diagnosis. Over the course of the past several weeks, I had first a core biopsy and then a surgical excisional biopsy on December 19th. The results from those biopsies were unfavorable, and I have been diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL).Without overwhelming you with the vast information I have researched and received at this point: it is an aggressive Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL). I met with my first oncologist this morning to start more in-dept discussions regarding diagnosis and treatment plan. I still have to undergo a number of other tests including PET Scan, echocardiogram, bone marrow biopsy, and blood test to determine the stage of the cancer; however, based on the tests I have already had, physical scans, and the lack of other symptoms, the oncologist is cautiously optimistic that the cancer is localized and that this will be Stage 1 DLBCL, which is the lowest stage, and I should have confirmation of the stage by the end of next week. I have started setting up all of the additional testing, referrals, and appointments, and have the confirmed ones listed below.
For treatment, the proven standard for DLBCL is chemotherapy, sometimes combined with radiation. The chemotherapy is called R-CHOP, which is a combination of drugs given on a 21 day cycle, with the first day being an injection through a port installed in my chest, followed by 13 days of steroids, and finally 7 days of rest, before immediately starting the next cycle. It is expected that I will go through 4-6 cycles of R-CHOP with a PET Scan after 3 cycles to check for response and re-evaluate the treatment plan. It’s not expected that I will have to undergo radiation at this point. We are hoping that I will start chemo within the next 3 weeks depending on getting all of the other parts lined up, which would mean I will hopefully finish chemo by June.
When I started this journey back on December 1 with my first appointment with my surgeon, he mentioned lymphoma as a very far fetched possibly, and I also asked my oncologist today if she had ever had another patient of my age and statistics with DLBCL, and she said she hasn’t ever treated a patient with this type of cancer of my age and other demographics/statistics. DLBCL normally affects people over 60 years old and is slightly more prevalent in men. So although having cancer is now an unfortunate reality for me, it is a curable type. I also have still not shown any symptoms outside of the enlarged lymph nodes and am otherwise “extremely healthy” (doctor’s words 🙂 ). I am an outlier for people normally diagnosed with DLBCL, and I should also hopefully be an outlier of all of the scary statistics and have an even greater chance of effective treatment and of being cured.
I will likely be unable to travel through the treatment period, but welcome phone calls, FaceTiming, and visitors to the great city of Greensboro. We have a guest bedroom, and can promise good company, wine and food 🙂 My goal at this point is to try to put together periodic emails to keep everyone in the loop, so let me know if you want to be included.
I have already received a tremendous support, referrals, love, and encouragement from some of you who have started walking with me through this process, and will not ever be able to express enough gratitude. I am also incredibly thankful to everyone on this email for our relationships and for the joy that you add to my life. You have all already impacted my life in more significant ways than you know, and are a part of my inspiration to beat this lymphoma so we can continue celebrating in future milestones of much happier natures.