This is the story of my health journey. It all started on Feb. 22, 2021. The two nights prior, I had been woken up during the night with a strange pain in my chest. It would come and go every so often. This happened the next day and again in the evening. When I woke up on the 22nd, I decided to go to the walk-in to make sure it was nothing. After an EKG and chest x-ray, they said all looked okay and they were just waiting on blood work. Once the blood work came back, it signaled that something else might be wrong, so they sent me to the ER. After a CT scan, they ruled out blood clots. However, the scan showed several swollen lymph nodes throughout my chest and under my arms. I was sent home to follow up with my doctor within two days. Wednesday morning I had a video appointment with my primary doctor. After going over possible choices, I opted to follow up with a cardiac thoracic doctor.
The following Tuesday morning I saw the cardiac doctor. He gave me three options. Wait three months and re-scan, hoping that it was just an infection that goes away. See a pulmonologist who could do a minimal invasive biopsy. The third option was to work with him and have a mediastienoscopy, in which I would go in for surgery where they would go through my lower neck, behind my breastbone and take a bunch of tissue samples for biopsy. After a little more conversation, I decided that I would go for what would give me the most results and chose the mediasteinoscopy. With this procedure, they would be able to test for a wide array of infections, diseases and cancers. It was then figuring out when I could get in for the procedure. Surprisingly, they called later that afternoon and were able to get me in on Friday. That meant I needed to go for a Covid test the next morning and then quarantine until Friday. In retrospect, it was a good thing that this all happened quick.
Friday morning came and I was scheduled for the procedure at 10:30am. Due to the doctor running late, I had to wait until 12:30pm. In the end, all went well and I was back home by 5pm with instructions to take it easy the next few days. I must say I was surprised by the incision. They had originally told me 1", but it was more like 2"+. After seeing myself, I said I looked like Frankenstein.
Then came the wait. I was told I should begin getting results on Monday or Tuesday. By Thursday I still had not heard anything. About 2pm, I got an email saying that I had new test results. I immediately went to look. Of course they were very confusing with a bunch of foreign words. What did stick out were words like "leukemia" and "lymphoma". I was no stranger to these, since my beloved Ken fought Multiple Myeloma for 6 years (which is in the same category as leukemia and lymphoma. I quickly got on the phone and called the nurse, asking if they had results for me. She asked what I had seen and I asked if I should start freaking out about these cancer words. Her response was that they needed to wait for the final pathology results, which should be in by Friday and that she would call me back then. Of course, I just lost it. I could feel the pit in my stomach already. I headed out from work to go pick up Macy from school. As I was driving to get her, the nurse called me back, telling me that pathology results had come in and it was CLL, chronic lymphocitic leukemia. She had already put in a call to the Grafton cancer clinic and they would be calling to set up a meeting with me. I was trying to keep it together and figure out how to talk to the kids about this. Right after Macy got in the car, the cancer clinic was calling to set up an appointment. Of course, by the time I got off the phone she knew something was wrong. I just flat out told her what the news was I just got. It went as I expected. She broke down and wanted to be alone.