Joanie Fredrick LetsGoJo!

First post: Nov 1, 2021 Latest post: Mar 30, 2022
Welcome to our CaringBridge website for Joanie. We are using this platform to keep family and friends updated in one place.

September 15th: Joanie went to Urgent Care, in order to get a lump in her throat checked out. She was at Urgent Care for many hours and had to get blood work, an IV and a CT scan. For the most part, her blood work came back normal. However, she did have a low Anion Gap (when googling that, it had many different associations - one of them being cancer). However, they ultimately told her to not worry about a low Anion Gap. Her enlarged lymph node ended up being 3 in total on her left side of her neck. When Googling, it says that "Lymph nodes measuring more than 1 cm in the short axis diameter are considered malignant." Joanie's lymph node was 1.8cm. While all of this was going on, Joanie was feeling tired and nervous. This was a long day for Joanie, in which she didn't eat anything while at Urgent Care until a nurse came over to Joanie and offered her a cookie from Panera. She then proceeded to offer Joanie her entire lunch from Panera. I truly believe this was a sign from my Dad. Why did this kind woman choose Joanie out of all the patients to give her lunch to Joanie? Especially with it being Panera (if you knew my Dad, he loved Panera haha). Joanie met with the Doctor at Urgent Care and she was told that they thought she had Lymphoma, and they highly suggested she meet with her primary Doctor first and then schedule an appointment with an ENT. 

September 23rd: We were all very upset with the news that this could be Cancer. We were even more upset that Urgent Care scared us and said the word 'Cancer'..."How dare they say that word without having any legitimate proof?! Especially since her white blood cells and red blood cells all came back normal!" Joanie met with our primary Doctor, Dr. Olander, and they discussed Joanie's symptoms: enlarged lymph node, extreme fatigue, bloating, etc. Dr. Olander also took blood work and she told Joanie that she didn't think it was Cancer and that it might actually be Mono. Joanie's had Mono in the past and her blood work ended up being again very normal; however, she tested very high in Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), which is a form of mononucleosis. Dr. Olander thought that maybe Joanie had Mono, but also informed Joanie that testing high in EBV can be a sign of some head and neck Cancers. Prior to all of this, Joanie had received the COVID vaccination and we read articles showing that the vaccine could cause swollen lymph nodes. We then read articles saying that the vaccine could cause EBV (if you've had Mono before, EBV lives within you) to flare up - hence, causing the enlarged lymph node. Dr. Olander was hoping this was the case, but suggested that Joanie needed to schedule an appointment with an ENT. 

September 29th: Joanie did a bunch of research to find the best ENT and she successfully found, Dr. Romashko through Froedtert. My mom and Joanie went to the appointment and discussed everything going on. He looked at Joanie's throat and tonsils, because he said typically people with Lymphoma have swollen tonsils as well. Joanie did not have swollen tonsils. He checked for a number of things, but again everything was showing to be normal. They decided to do a needle biopsy in Joanie's neck. 
October 7th: Joanie had a needle biopsy done by Dr. Romashko. 

October 12th: Joanie was called by Dr. Romashko and was told the devastating news that she in fact, has Cancer. We were not given a lot of details as the needle biopsy can only share so much. Dr. Romashko wanted Joanie to get a surgical biopsy, in order for them to get a clear diagnosis on what cancer she has, etc. Dr. Romashko has been an incredible Doctor for Joanie and has a wonderful bedside manner. If you are in need of an ENT, he is your guy! 

October 20th: Joanie and Troy met with Dr. Nirav Shah (Oncologist who specializes in Lymphoma) at Froedtert. By this time, Joanie's symptoms have gotten worse. More specifically, she was having major pains in her abdomen, in which she would take a sip of water in the morning without eating anything yet and her stomach would bloat immensely causing a lot of pain. She began to feel even more tired and she would need to sleep a lot throughout the day; otherwise, she would feel exhausted from even doing a simple house chore. After hearing her symptoms and reading the results from the needle biopsy, Dr. Shah explained to Joanie that he believes Joanie has Non-Hodgkins, B-Cell Lymphoma based on all of her symptoms. He said that he believed this was an aggressive type of cancer, which caused the enlarged lymph node. He created a to-do list for Joanie: schedule PET scan, MRI, and to move up her fertility appointment. 

October 20th (same day): Joanie had her surgical biopsy scheduled after her appointment with Dr. Shah. She was nervous, especially about the anesthesia since she has had a bad experience with anti-nausea medication in the past post anesthesia. However, once again I believe my Dad was there because as Joanie was awaiting for her surgery, the Anesthesiologist knelt down to eye level with Joanie and he told her everything was going to be okay. The surgery was successful! Joanie now has a badass scar on her neck as a reminder of her strength! 
October 26th: Joanie had her PET scan. 
October 27th: Joanie and Troy met with Dr. Shah to discuss the results. This was a very difficult and heartbreaking appointment. We received Joanie's official diagnosis that she has Stage 4, Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, Non GCB. The cancer has spread to spleen, sternum, pancreas and bones. And there is involvement in her uterus, which could result in infertility. She was told that she needed to get an MRI ASAP to see if it spread to her brain, needed to schedule an appointment to get a Port in her chest for chemo and the Doctor highly recommended that she starts chemo immediately. Dr. Shah said she needed to make a difficult decision on whether she holds off on chemo, in order to save embryos for fertility preservation. Joanie and Troy ultimately decided to not prolong chemo and that it is extremely important that she starts it immediately. Joanie is scheduled to have her first chemo treatment on Thursday, November 4th. 
• Chemo Treatment Plan
◦ 6 cycles of RCHOP chemo every 3 weeks (6 hour long sessions each time)
◦ After RCHOP cycles 2, 4, and 6 Joanie will need to be admitted into the hospital 3 separate times for 5 days, in order to get a high dose of Methotrexate. This will help prevent any spread of cancer into her brain. 
◦ Duration of treatment: 6+ months
◦ Side effects: loss of hair after 1-2 cycles of chemo, potential infections, numbness, tingling, nausea, fatigue, etc. 
October 29th: Joanie attended the virtual appointment with Mayo Clinic for a second opinion. It was very affirming to know she is in great hands at Froedtert with Dr. Shah. Dr. Khurana from Mayo Clinic agreed with the treatment plan and said she would do the same thing at Mayo. 
• A few things Dr. Khurana from Mayo emphasized: 
◦ Focus on each treatment at a time 
◦ Try to stay active when she feels up to it (15-20 min of walking or using the Peloton a day)
◦ Small victories are big victories 
◦ PLEASE get vaccinated for the Flu and COVID if you aren't already and plan to spend time with Joanie once she receives her first chemo treatment (Thursday, 11/4). 
▪ The Doctor said this is the BEST way we can protect Joanie, because her immune system will be extremely compromised. I know this is hard information, but the Doctor repeatedly said if Joanie gets COVID once she starts chemo, she will die...I know that sounds super scary as it is, but the Doctor truly made that abundantly clear. Even if Joanie were to get a simple cold, she would be hospitalized. 
▪ Therefore, if you go in public and still want to see Joanie, then please wear a MASK,. If you are by anyone with a cold (even the sniffles), then please quarantine before seeing Joanie. 
▪ Honestly, for the most part, it will be difficult to see Joanie during this time as we can't take any risks. Therefore, I highly recommend and encourage anyone to FaceTime Joanie as she will need the love and support from all of you! Not only will chemo be hard, but the fact that she has to be isolated is even more mentally saddening. FaceTime, text, email, whatever you have to do to show your love and to check in with Joanie.