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During late summer 2016 I had “stomach” problems: bloated feeling, alternating between constipation and diarrhea. In September my doctor ordered a CT scan to see if intestine blockage. Enlarged lymph nodes were found in my lower abdomen. A biopsy of my lymph nodes diagnosed follicular lymphoma. Additional tests included PET Scan, Eco Cardiogram, Bone Marrow biopsy, blood tests, etc.
I have a cluster of lymphoma in my lower abdomen, and also in some lymph nodes in my neck, chest, under arms, bone marrow and spleen. But not in any other organs or brain. So it is wide spread, and a combination of slow growing and fast growing cells. Fast growing is actually better, since it responds better to chemo. Prognosis is remission (not cure) with 80% success rate. While there is no way of knowing how long remission may last, chemo treatment can be repeated if it comes back.
On October 11, 2016 I started treatment: Bendamustine chemotherapy; Riotux, an antibody so not really chemo; and Neulasta to encourage while blood cell growth. The first treatment was over three days, subsequent ones will be only two days (Bendamustine and Riotux on day one, Bendamustine on day two), and Neulasta will be administered 24 hours after chemo by an arm patch. This schedule will repeat every 28 days for six sessions. A PET Scan and lab tests will monitor the treatment success.
Initially I have six medicines to take--four are to control nausea and vomiting. Some I take only the first three days of the cycle, others every day, others "as needed." Confusing! Typical chemo side effects are possible, but at least no worry about hair loss. Most side effects occur around days 5-8, but hopefully I will be one of the lucky ones. Risk of infection is highest @ days 14-21 when my white blood cell count is lowest. But I am counting on the stars aligning for the important things in life, like basketball games, dates with LaVonne, family time, walks with Charlotte, and long delayed writing projects.
This is all somewhat overwhelming to absorb. I am scared, but confident. I'm fortunate that I am otherwise healthy, I have a big support system of family and friends, and a strong faith that God walks, laughs and cries with us through all things.