Curve balls

I’ve been absent from blogging for the past few weeks because I have had something on my mind and I wasn’t quite sure how to talk about it or if I should talk about it at all for that matter.

The short story: I found out last week that I have a fist sized tumor in my chest, most likely Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Obviously I am concerned, but I remain optimistic; in all likelihood it is fairly treatable.

The long story: About three weeks ago I noticed a swollen lymph node just above my right collar bone. Naturally, just like I would do with a running injury or any other weird thing that happened to me, I began to Google. Dr. Internet is your friend, right?

In this case, I suppose that is a true statement.

Chris was in India and, other than tending to Kai, I had nothing better to do than spend hours on the internet scaring the crap out of myself. By Monday morning I was so convinced that the hard, swollen, unmovable lymph node in my neck coupled with night sweats (also a symptom of breastfeeding mind you) were symptoms of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that I was counting down the minutes until I could call and schedule an appointment with a doctor.

Not having a primary care physician in town, I began making random calls to doctors begging them to see me that afternoon. Most were not accepting patients, but, by some miracle, someone agreed to see me. He initially seemed to think that I may have picked up some persistent, low grade infection in India, but decided to schedule me for an ultrasound of the area just in case. The ultrasound did not yield much information, but it did look abnormal enough for him to refer me to an ENT who ordered a CT scan of the area.

Have you ever had a CT scan?

When I went in for mine, the tech told me that he was going to load me up with iodine. He warned that as the iodine circulated through my body it would first taste bad, then make me feel like I wet my pants but not to worry because I really wouldn’t have wet my pants. [Ugh, more pant wetting? Maybe most people don’t wet their pants, but I probably will I thought.]  His warning was dead on. It tasted bad, then I felt like I wet my pants. I am happy to report that I did not wet my pants. Sometimes it is the small things in life.

As I left, I rather cavalierly commented how it was probably stupid that I was there in the first place. After all, I’m a healthy young person. Most of us would have just ignored that little bump and moved on with our lives. Here I was paying who knows how much to have 3D pictures taken of my collarbone.

I can’t imagine what was running through his head at that time.

The following morning the ENT’s nurse called me back to tell me that they found a rather large mass in my neck and upper chest, but they were not sure how large as it had not all been captured in the CT scan. She wanted me to go back for another scan.

Um, wait, what?

Naturally, I tried to dismiss it. After all, I was headed to Lake Tahoe that evening and they were supposed to get hit with a killer snow storm.”Would it make much of a difference if I follow up next week? I’m supposed to go snowboarding this weekend.”The nurse encouraged me to cancel my trip. Assuming that she had not heard about the feet of fresh powder that were supposed to be dumped in the Sierra’s over the weekend, I protested. She again encouraged me to cancel my trip.

A few hours later when I arrived for CT scan #2, the same tech was there.”Yeah, yesterday when you were leaving we knew that you would be back, we just weren’t allowed to tell you.”

That whole not allowed to tell me (and not allowed to just do a bigger scan right then and there for that matter), kind of bugs me, but I suppose that it doesn’t matter in the long run.

After more scanning and a non-invasive biopsy I still have no firm diagnosis and I have come to New Jersey where my uncle has called in the big guns for me. I am so thankful to him that I can’t even explain. All signs point to the mass being Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but we still don’t know for sure. I plan to work with a Lymphoma expert at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York that my uncle connected me with and, unless someone tells me this is not the case, I remain confident that I will emerge from this situation sometime later this year, relieved to have it all behind me.

So where does all of this leave me? Well, it leaves me feeling very fortunate.

I actually went in to have a doctor look at the swollen lymph node. He took me seriously. I have the means and  geographic flexibility to go to one of the best cancer treatment centers in the country. I was fortunate enough to have my uncle connect me with one of the top Lymphoma experts in the country. I will get to spend more time with my family than I ever imagined. I will get to watch Kai much more closely over the next few months as she continues her metamorphosis from a colicy, screaming baby to a smiley, cute baby.

I have no delusions; this isn’t going to be easy and it is not the ideal way to realize how fortunate I am, but with Chris, Kai, and the rest of my family I’ll get through it.

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35 comments
  1. Jena said:

    I am… Speechless. Totally speechless. I’m so very sorry. So glad you have access to some of the best specialists. Definitely holding out hope that it’s a benign tumor.

    • Brit said:

      You pretty much summed up my thoughts. What a crazy change to be thrown!

  2. Lisa said:

    I wish I could reach through cyberspace to give you a giant hug. How scary and unexpected and just crazy. I’m so glad you have access to great care. I’m praying for you and your family too. Please keep us updated as you have time. You are amazing to see the silver lining and small blessing in the middle of this situation.

    • Brit said:

      Thank you Lisa. It is such a strange thing still. I’ll get through it one way or another.

  3. branny said:

    My jaw just dropped. Wow, Brit. I am thinking of you and your family. You are strong and awesome. You’ll do great. Lots of love and care!

    (ps. I totally had the iodine wet-pants thing, too, when I had a catscan last fall for a lump on the back of my neck – which ended up being nothing – but that wetting the pants thing was crazy. I don’t mean to make light of your situation by telling you this, though).

    • Brit said:

      Thanks Branny.

      I was trying to lighten the mood with the iodine story. I still can’t believe how real the pants wetting thing felt!

      • Lisa said:

        Jumping back in, I almost forgot about my hospital episode last year, complete with a CT scan. The iodine stuff was horrid, and the pants wetting definitely felt real. You have a gift for telling a good story in the midst of hardship !

  4. jen said:

    wow. how crazy. Thank goodness for your Uncle and for getting the care you need in order to kick this lump to the curb! I’m sure you’re going to come out of this with flying colors and have more funny stories to share with us 🙂 Keep us updated and do let us know if we can do anything (even from all the way here in India!) 🙂 Take care and kiss that sweet girl of yours – nothing makes me feel better than spending time with my baby.

  5. Mary said:

    Wow, Brit, I am so sorry to hear that life has thrown this your way, BUT I know that you have the strength and determination to make this just a bump in the road of your life. I will be thinking about you!

  6. Dana said:

    I’m speechless … what a huge curve ball! I wish you all the best during your diagnosis and treatment.

  7. shelby said:

    Holy…wow. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. I will be thinking of you. Please keep us posted!

  8. Jacki said:

    Brit, this is crazy – I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, and simultaneously so glad you have a good team on your side!! Sending you all the good/healthy thoughts I’ve got!!

  9. Wow Brit. i don;t know what to say. Many toughts and prayers for you. Everything has aligned in your favor to get you the diagnosis, may the treament continue to go as smoothly.

  10. Karen said:

    Wow, how scary. I am so sorry! Thinking lots of good thoughts for you. Be well.

  11. Jen said:

    What a great outlook to have. I hope it’s treated and over with as soon as possible. You’re in my thoughts. Hang in there.

  12. Pauline Jelken said:

    Brittany, I am thinking of you and praying for you and am so glad that you are concentrating on the positive aspects of this and that you will be in the hands of the best doctors! Pauline Jelken

  13. Lori said:

    You have actually rendered me speechless…yes, it IS possible 😉 It sounds like you’ve got the best possible outlook on this situation, which is SO important. I’m crossing my fingers that its a benign tumor but thinking of you nonetheless!

  14. I don’t even know what to say. I wondered where you have been but could have never imagined it would be something like this. I know you are a strong woman and will get through this. just know you have thoughts and prayers coming to you from Michigan. 🙂

  15. kristin said:

    It’s this kind of attitude that makes your blog a fun read, and I’m sure makes being a part of your real life a gift. Good luck–sending good thoughts!

  16. maureen said:

    Wow I am so sorry! You seem to have such a great attitude and that is key to overcoming anything in addition to the grat support you are getting from your family. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  17. Rebecca said:

    Oh, how scary! So glad you took it seriously and it sounds like you are in very capable hands!

    Keep us updated!

  18. Wow, huge news. I share your frustration with medical “procedures” sometimes. Definitely thinking of you and your family as things get figured out!

  19. Kate said:

    This made me think of the Sunscreen Song lyrics, “The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
    never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.” So glad you have excellent resources and family at your disposal. Praying for you as this gets taken care of.

  20. Bree said:

    Wow Brit, so sorry to hear this news. I will be praying that everything turns out good for you and your family. Glad to hear you have top of the line specialists working with you.

  21. Sorry to hear about your news. I’ll be praying for you and your family. Also, thanks for taking the courage to share this news.

  22. I’m so sorry! That is so hard. I’ll be praying for you and your family, but I’m glad that you’re feeling optimistic.

  23. Brit said:

    Thank you all for such kind responses! This definitely wasn’t something I had in mind for my life plan, but I’ll get through it. Hopefully I will know more next week. In the meantime I’m playing the waiting game.

  24. LauraK said:

    I’m sorry to hear of your news. I’m a Nestie that found your blog and have been following it for sometime. Cancer sucks. Last year my DH was diagnosed with CML a form of leukemia. There were some tough days in the beginning. Hang in there. Thank you for sharing your life the good and the bad with us. Our prayers are with you.

  25. jillybean222 said:

    Oh my goodness, Brit! I’m so sorry. It sounds like you are in good hands. Keep us posted and we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

  26. Oh, wow! I don’t even know what to say except…wow! And I’m sorry! I can’t imagine going through all of this – especially with all the life changing that came/comes with a new baby! Hopefully it all turns out to be benign! So glad you have such a positive outlook and great resources to help!

  27. Wishing you all the hope in the world that it’s benign, and all the strength you’ve got if it isn’t.

    If there’s anything I’ve gathered from reading your blog these past few years, it’s that you are one badass young woman and you can handle anything that’s coming to you.

    Big hugs to you and Chris and Kai.

  28. Oh my goodness. I never would have pictured this. I have so many prayers going out for you, Chris, Kai, and your family. You are truly blessed to have such a beautiful family, life, and the ability to take this thing head on. Kick some butt girl.

  29. Jen said:

    Sending lots of thoughts and prayers your way. Please keep us posted!

  30. You are an inspiration for bravery and calmness.

    I know that, no matter what happens, you’re going to make it look like you’re tackling the problem in the most natural and straight on way.

    I hope you don’t mind, but when I share this (and other of your stories) with my friends and family, I don’t say “a blogger I follow did X”, I say “a friend of mine did X”

    That is because, when I read this, I didn’t think “a blogger I follow has Hodgkins Lymphoma”. I thought “my friend Brit has Hodgkins Lymphoma”.

    Please get better soon.

    • Brit said:

      Thank you for your kind comments! And of course I don’t mind.

      I hope that I continue to live up to my reputation!

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