While on a trip to Mexico in late January, 2016, some of the issues I had been experiencing culminated in a trip to the local hospital there. I had a pain in my stomach at the base of my diaphragm, which hurt when I took a deep breath or exhaled deeply. This had been going on for a couple of months. I also began to feel some pain at times behind my ribs on my left side. As the week wore on, this pain on my left side became quite a severe jabbing pain but only with deep breaths. At night, however, the jabbing pain became more unbearable and was keeping me awake.
We went to the hospital, and after taking an x-ray, the doctor saw that there was fluid filling my pleural cavity surrounding my lung, which was causing the pain in my left rib cage. The doctor tapped into the lung cavity to drain the fluid to give me relief from the pain. He withdrew about 760 cc's of fluid. He told us that the fluid would return until we found out why the fluid was filling this cavity. A CT scan revealed several abnormalities in my abdomen. They didn’t directly point to any one problem—just that something wasn’t right. The doctor said my kidneys and other organs were functioning accurately, but the walls of some of my organs, such as my colon were thicker than they should be and many lymph nodes were swollen.
Cancer did come up in the discussion, however. Knowing that we didn’t want to get started with anything in Mexico, the doctor suggested we get home and get a work up.
(Side note: The hospital in Mexico was less than a year old and had all the most modern and up-to-date equipment. The doctor was fairly young, but spoke English very well. He walked us through our entire four-hour experience in the emergency room. He explained everything he could and answered all our questions very carefully. He was not just the emergency room doctor; he was also the hospital's surgeon.)
Once I returned home I began four weeks of testing (colonoscopy, CT scan, PET scan, bone marrow biopsy, exploratory surgery, etc.) which included two hospital stays. At the end of this, my oncologist explained to us that I have both high and low grade B cell lymphomas. This is both an aggressive cancer and a slow-growing one. We are treating them together but the fast growing should respond faster.
I received my first chemotherapy treatment on Friday, March 11 . My regimen is to have chemo every third Friday for six to eight sessions.