THE DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
I have been diagnosed with at least two tumors of (Stage 3c) B-cell lymphoma, both on the right bridge of my nose. There are six as-yet undiagnosed tumors on bones on both legs and right arm, suspected also to be lymphoma.
The pathology report from a biopsy on my nose arrived on October 24 and chemotherapy began on October 28. The urgency was due to the proximity of the tumors to the brain and the right eye. Continued work to diagnose the bone tumors will proceed between chemotherapy sessions; it is hoped they are also lymphoma and will of themselves respond to treatments.
WHAT THIS MEANS
I will need to turn over my teaching duties to substitutes, realistically for the remainder of the school year. We’ve seen that we’ll continue ministering in new ways through this, but it will not include teaching for me.
We will remain here in Germany for treatment for the following reasons:
1) We have an incredibly strong support network here
2) Our mission agency has health insurance that works best overseas
3) Medical care is at least equivalent to care in the U.S. at a fraction of the cost
4) The urgency to begin treatment (4 days after diagnosis) made it impossible to pack up and come home.
We need your help -- prayer, physical help (if in Germany), and financial -- in ways we had not at all anticipated. This is quite a detour from our plan for this, our last year in service at BFA. (Tax Deductible donations can be made online through TeachBeyond. https://give.teachbeyond.org/support/hendersons/
THE BACK STORY
Some weeks after bruising my left shin after a bike ride in July, it just wouldn’t heal. I knew something was amiss when the left ankle also began aching and swelling. X-rays at the orthopedist showed “shadows” on the shin, ankle, and knee. Thus began a long process to pinpoint the cause (though most likely cancer). Pain was bad enough that I was walking with crutches and not sleeping well, though manageable just with Ibuprofen.
Separately, in mid-September, a simple, planned surgery to clear the lacrimal sac on the right side of the bridge of my nose was immediately cancelled when the surgeon came in for a pre-surgery exam and “had a hunch” about a lump between my eye and nose, instead ordering a whole head MRI, and from that a biopsy ordered. The news came back on October 24 that there were two tumors categorized as Stage 3c B-cell lymphoma.
One tumor is eroding the eye socket and heading toward the eye, and the other had penetrated my nasal bone and is growing in a sinus cavity, heading toward the brain. Thus, treatment of these tumors became urgent, pushing the bone issues in my limbs to the background -- if they are also lymphoma, they would also respond to the chemo.
Bone scans (PET CT, CT, MRI, and X-ray) have subsequently revealed a number of things, though not yet conclusively:
1) It does not appear to be a return of the prostate cancer since the tumors do not display the telltale signs of prostate cancer and since my PSA numbers remain low.
2) It does not appear to be leukemia, since leukemia first attacks bone marrow and blood cells whereas these tumors are starting at the surface and eroding bone.
Degradation in the left leg is severe enough that the leg is unstable and in danger of fracture. The right arm is also severely degraded even though the two tumors there started much later. Surgery will be needed on both to stabilize these areas.