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10/15/2016 Latest post:
Hello, my name is Sean Fletcher, I'm 36 years old from South Florida. I'm the husband of my beautiful amazing wife Tiffany, and the proud happy father of my 4 year old Little Man John. Our family will grow a little more in January 2017 when we will welcome a new baby boy a well.
On Tuesday October 11, 2016 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma Stage II Cancer. It came as one helluva shock as I would like to think I am a pretty healthy person. My family eats healthy, we avoid fast food, fatty food, junk food. I don't drink, or smoke, and I strive to run 5 to 10 miles a week and fit in nights at the gym, wrapped about a full time job with Merrill Edge Supervision ( A division of Bank of America) and play time with my favorite little man John. So here is where the story begins:
Earlier this summer in June 2016 I began to have a cough, bring at times would bring up mucus (gross I know) but something I could not break. At the time my symptoms were just coughing, clear mucus. My glands were not swollen, no other outward signs of distress. I tried the over the counter medicine, thinking I had a cold. After three weeks with no success I made an appointment to see the doctor. I saw the Nurse Practitioner at our Primary Care office on July 7. Her response to the symptoms was I had an allergy. I was instructed to go home, search the house for any changes, check for mold, bushes in the yard, laundry detergent, dry cleaning and see if I was not allergic to something as allergies change every 7 years. I was given a Proair Respiclick Inhaler and Flucticasone Spray and sent on my way and told to start trying over the counter anti allergy medicines. We searched out house, cleaned vents, cleaned the house and did everything we were told to look into.
For our vacation this year we decided to drive first to Lancaster Pennsylvania to visit family and then to Massachusetts. Our stop in Lancaster also brought us to the National Zoo so John could see the Panda Bears, first family animals. His two best friends are two stuffed baby Ming and big brother Manchu. We were also able to spend time with Tiffany's aunts and cousins in Lancaster before driving up to Massachusetts. While in Pennsylvania i attempted to do a little running, as I had planned to run the Dennis 5K while we were visiting Cape Cod. On the morning of July 22 and July 23 able to run about 1 mile before being either completely out of breathe, or at least struggling to push through mile 2. On July 23 we left for Massachusetts arriving in Foxborough later that day. We spent July 24 at my Mom's House in Mansfield. We followed family tradition and my older sister Kim took pictures of each of the families.
During this entire time I still had a terrible cough which with the dry inhaler had not improved. I though that since we had now been away from Florida for 5 days the cough and allergy would improve. It did not, it in fact grew a bit worse. I attempted to take over the counter medication for a cold and allergy and it did nothing. I finally broke and went to a CVS minute clinic in Norton, Massachusetts. The Physicians Assistant listed and felt that it was not an allergy since I was now out of Florida with the same problem. She felt it was a viral bronchitis. She proscribed a Proair HFA 90 MCG Inhaler and Benzonatate at 100 mg for the cough. Later that morning John got his first ride on a train, taking a MBTA Commuter rail train to South Station, up in the cab courtesy of cousin Raymond. Once in South Station Uncle Marty got to show him the inside of an Amtrak Acela train, even getting to use the big horn. This was followed up by a trip to the Boston Museum of Science, and a some cannoli Fanueil Hall.
The following day July 26 we went down to Falmouth, Ma and stayed by the water. The weather was still hot, and the cough did not really improve. I had planned to run a 5k on Saturday July 30, but I had not been able to run more then a 1 mile at through out July with the cough. I ended up to my disappointment skipping the run entirely. On Monday August 1st we started the drive home to Florida, the cough only marginally better since taking the Benzonatate for several days with the inhaler. As we moved through the month of August several symptoms appeared, but neither myself or Tiffany put any of it together. I started getting a rash all along my arms, both right and left which was always itchy. We thought it was bed bugs, but Tiffany never got any rash or bits. Then the night sweats started, usually 2 to 3 times a week. At first I figured it was the air in the house, and so I would just turn the AC down lower, from 74 to 70 but it didn't do any good except make my pregnant wife and 4 year old colder. At this point I had started to notice a short fat neck, my dress shirts became increasing
By the end of August the cough had not gone away for I went back my primary care physician Charles Stinson on September 8, 2016. He felt it was still an allergy based on clear mucus I was coughing up, the cough and rash. He felt my lymph nodes in the neck area and said they were a little swollen. He ordered a thyroid panel and a allergy panel. He proscribed Montelukast a allergy medicine and recommended I see an Immunologist. On Monday September 12 they both the tests came back negative. I was told to go see an allergist. I didn't immediately make an appointment because life, and work got in the way. But I did notice the coughing came back worse, now to the point that I would cough so hard I would become dizzy, forcing me to either lean or grab something or fall onto my hands and knees simply to get stable. At this point my symptoms now were severe coughing, snoring ( never had snored before), constant nasal blockage forcing the use of saline solution or the flonase. The rash, night sweats, a loss of appetite which I did not notice at first. But slowly realized I was not longer feeling I wanted a breakfast, I could barely finish lunch, and only was eating half of dinner. I was also suddenly a little moody, yelling at poor John and Tiffany for stupid things, and losing my patience on things that would normally not bother me.
At all of those symptoms got worse I finally made the decision to go see the immunologist. Tiffany spoke to a doctor at Broward General, Dr. Ralph Guarnaeri a friend about a good immunologist. He made a recommendation and I made an appoint on September 30 to meet with this doctor at on October 13 the earliest appoint. In those two weeks things got even worse, the night sweats increased to every night, and my neck swelling became much worse. Now buttoning a dress shirt was a terrible task, and the right side of my neck was now swelling and showing a visible lump. I had monitored the lump during the prior 4 weeks since i found it about September 11 or so, and perhaps in my mind I knew it was no longer an allergy problem but I refused to believe it was cancer.
On the morning of Monday October 10 I got up as usual for work, had a miserable time getting my dress shirt button and tie on, almost to the point I said screw the tie that day since it was Columbus Day. But I redoubled my effort got it on, even if it was almost choking me and went to work. I dropped John at daycare, and headed toward my office at 401 East Las Olas, in Fort Lauderdale. That morning I took the expressway, I-95. Traffic was heavy like any Monday, and some where around East Oakland Park Blvd exit I had a coughing spelling. I got dizzy and just in the nick of time slammed my breaks and avoided rear ending the car in front of me at 50 miles an hour. I called Tiffany and asked her to check with Dr. Guarnaeri for a good primary care. I got a name and called to see about an appoint which would come only on October 24. I was luck to have gotten to work safely that morning but hardly felt like eating that day, and later on around 3pm started to get a terrible pain on the right side. It traveled from my lower neck up behind my ear and to the back of the head. I left work at 4pm, after taking 4 Advil which gave no relief. That night I had a scaled down dinner, went up stairs to bed. Monday night was sleepless, Tiffany fled the room at 1AM due to the snoring, and I had a terrible night sweat, being completely soaked by dawn. The coughing and spitting up of mucus was now at its worse, I was filling half a 16 ounce bottle a night.