Richard C. Eastman

First post: Jan 23, 2018 Latest post: Mar 8, 2018
I was diagnosed with Indolent Follicular non-Hodgkins Lymphoma In 2015.  A CT scan done to follow-up my successful treatment of localized bladder cancer in 2009 showed I was free of that disease (I remain free now 8 years since treatment and am considered "cured"), but showed multiple enlarged lymph nodes in multiple locations above and below the diaphragm.  This is a slowly growing lymphoma that is not considered curable, but is typically well managed with a number of chemotherapy options.  It is generally not treated unless a number of nodes in 3 different groups get bigger than 3 cm., of if it interferes with other organ systems.  So I have been followed regularly since 2015 with blood work, CT scans, and physical examination.

In December on routine follow-up a blood test was elevated indicating the lymphoma was more active, and a CT scan showed one group of nodes had become significantly larger.  My oncologist and I decided it was time to start chemotherapy with a good chance of getting a compete remission, at least for a time, with a combination of a traditional chemotherapy agent and one of the new designer monoclonal antibodies.  So I am prepping for this with plans to start in the next two weeks.

As a physician I have cared for  patients who required chemotherapy for advanced cancers of the endocrine glandular system (thyroid, pituitary, gonads, adrenal).  Like many of my patients and other patients for whom chemotherapy is recommended, I have no symptoms related to the lymphoma.  It is just there, obviously getting bigger, and needing treatment.  Chemotherapy is unlikely to make me feel any different with respect to the lymphoma, and if fact at least over the short-term is likely to make me feel lousy, but the trip is worth taking because of the high likelihood of getting at least a temporary remission.

I have started this site so family, friends, and anyone else who is interested can hear my story "from the horse's mouth", rather than by by accounts passed person to person and ultimately filtered.  To this point I was called by a colleague and friend several years who had heard through the grapevine that I had died of bladder cancer!  We laughed and recalled Mark Twain's quip that the rumors of his death are greatly exaggerated!

So this story begins.  A chemotherapy "port" goes in friday, and after a PET scan next week and an chemo education class, the first cycle will begin.  Despite my experiences as a Doc, this is a little scary and puts life in a somewhat different perspective.

Richard C. Eastman M.D.

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