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.