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Feb 20, 2018 Latest post:
May 17, 2018
For my entire life, I have joked that I was a dangerously healthy person. No bad habits. I eat well. I exercise. I've been so healthy, I thought that I didn't need health insurance. I've never had a broken bone or spent a single night in a hospital (I did have a few scary days in Nicaragua back in my 40's, suffering from my second bout of dengue fever.) My wise wife Paula insisted that we enroll with Obama Care, even if only under a major medical policy with an annual $7,000 deductible.
To my amazement, during the week following Thanksgiving, 2017 I had such intense pain in my gut that I could not sleep. Finally, on December 1st Paula sent me to visit our primary care M.D. She may have saved my life. Dr. Thornton suspected diverticulitis and sent me to the Chester County Hospital for a CT scan which, to everyone’s surprise, revealed a 9.8 cm soft mass (tumor) between my spine and my belly. That same day I was checked into the hospital for further testing and pain management.
On December 4 the hospital performed a biopsy of my tumor, taking at the same time what seemed like pints of blood for testing.
One week later, on Monday Dec 11, I met an oncologist for a preliminary diagnosis - Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) an aggressive type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (a fast-growing, form of NHL). DLBCL is fatal if left untreated, but with timely and appropriate treatment, approximately two-thirds of all patients respond well to chemotherapy. Half of those never have any recurrence of disease.
Over the following week I was subject to an electro cardiogram, a bone marrow test to stage the cancer, a PET/CT scan (revealed that my highly aggressive tumor had grown to 19.5 cms in two weeks!)
On December 18th I began the first of six chemotherapy treatments. That rhythm will continue for a total of 126 days, getting a new treatment every 21 days.
My principal obligation and interest for the coming four months is to reduce to a minimum my stress levels so that my body can devote 100% of its available energy to defeating the cancer while surviving and healing from each of the successive chemotherapies.
What follows are a series of weekly reflections tracking my journey back to health. I hope that some of my insights might prove to be of service who find themselves on a similar journey.