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My story began in November of 2014, when I was diagnosed with a disease called Sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that can affect almost any organ in the body. It causes heightened immunity, which means that a person’s immune system, which normally protects the body from infection and disease, overreacts, resulting in damage to the body’s own tissues. The classic feature of sarcoidosis is the formation of granulomas, microscopic clumps of inflammatory cells that group together. When too many of these clumps form in an organ they can interfere with how that organ functions. There is no cure, but it is manageable. The disease was located in one lung and in my lymph nodes. After a year on treatment, my pulmonary doctor weaned me off the medicine because my breathing had improved and I no longer had any symptoms.
Fast forward to the end of July 2016, when suddenly a golf ball size lump appeared on the left side of my neck. As concern grew, I decided to head to urgent care. In my mind, I had mono or some kind of virus. After the doctor examined me, she suggested I have a cat scan or MRI to see what's going on. She thought it may be more than just the sarcoidosis and even mentioned lymphoma. Cancer, ummm no way. On Monday, August 15th, I go in to see my doctor. She informs me that that particular lymph node is generally an indication of some type cancer in your stomach or pelvis area. She ordered blood work and Cat scan. Blood work came back that I was severely anemic and my hemoglobin numbers were extremely low. Next up was cat scan. The result of that showed no cancer in the abdomen or pelvis; however, several lymph nodes were enlarged, there were nodules in my chest region, and one spot on my lung. The radiologist recommended a biopsy to confirm whether it was the sarcoidosis or lymphoma. Ugh, that word again.
I meet with the surgeon on Thursday, August 25th, 2016, who informs me that a needle biopsy will not give us the definite answer we need, so it must be a surgical biopsy. So, as I am freaking out thinking about surgery, he also tells me I need to see a thoracic surgeon. Why? He thought maybe I had lung cancer. Are you kidding me! I decided that I must run all this info by my Pulmonary doctor. He reads all the cat scan results and reassures me that it looks like classic sarcoidosis that has spread. He did agree that the biopsy would is necessary because there was that off chance it could be lymphoma.
On Friday, September 2nd, 2016, I had the biopsy. Now we wait. I continue with further research on-line and everything pointed to lymphoma. Could it be possible? On Tuesday, September 6th, 2016, my Pulmonary doctor calls with good news. The preliminary test came back negative for lymphoma. Phew, a sigh of relieve. Now the second part of testing , called staining will be done just to confirm. On Wednesday, September 7th, 2016, the pulmonary doctor called. He began his call with, "Mrs. Fontaine I am very sorry." That's all I needed to hear and the tears began to flow. My worst fear had become my nightmare. Cancer had again invaded my life, my family once again. He went on to say that this type of lymphoma, Nodular Sclerosis Hodgkin's Lymphoma is the good cancer. It is curable. Next I would need a PET scan to see what stage it was and where it was located. Sunday, September 11th, I am injected with a radioactive serum, and the PET scan is completed.
On Wednesday, September 14th, I have an oncology consult. The results of the PET scan officially confirm Nodular Sclerosis Hodgkin's Lymphoma, stage 2A. 90% curable. My prognosis is very favorable (1 out of 5). It is located in five areas, mostly on the left upper chest area. Treatment, referred to as ABVD ( four chemo drugs, Adriamycin, bleomycin, vinblastine, dacarbazine) will be every other week, 8 -12 rounds, over the next four to six months. Very rough treatments, but the doctors are hopeful this will do the trick. I will have a port placed to make treatments a bit more bearable.
While I/we are still in shock that cancer has once again invaded our family, we believe that the same God who brought Kailiah through her journey completely healed, can do the same for me. Please pray for us. We have a long road ahead, but we have full confidence that once again we will be victorious.