Around the middle of October I began having a lot of lower back pain. Towards the end November the pain increased to my side and I could easily feel a lump slightly under my left rib cage. Tuesday, December 3, I visited my family doctor who scheduled a chest X-ray that afternoon in New Bern. The following morning the receptionist called and advised we schedule a CT scan, as my left lung was elevated and a soft tissue mass was found, where I was having pain. The CT scan was scheduled for one week later, December 11 at 2:30,the day after our 2nd wedding anniversary. Results would be within 24-48 hours. By 7 o’clock in the evening,my doctor made a personal phone call to me, and told me to go directly to the emergency room. We handed off Valentina to grandma (Loretta Smith)and left immediately. At the ER many tests were done and a lot of blood work. The ED doctor concluded the results were due to an extremely enlarged spleen and had me admitted. By the next morning more results were in and the hematologist doctor said she felt like this was more than New Bern could handle and advised transfer to a larger hospital, specifically UNC or Duke. By 9:30 P.M. they had me loaded and on my way to UNC Chapel Hill. All day Friday TESTS, TESTS, TEST, including a bone marrow biopsy, and every attempt to rule out cancer. By this time the focus had shifted from the spleen to the mass and there there wasn’t anymore talk of surgery. Saturday and Sunday were relatively calm, quiet days... we enjoyed several visitors, and appreciated them making the 2-hour trip (1-way) to come see us! Monday morning I had a GI scope along with several biopsies and the results were narrowed down to a possible malignant mass/tumor. We expected results by 4:00pm on Tuesday. Roger and Ann Yost spent the day with us. About 4:45pm the surgical doctor came in and told us, “it is lymphoma.” (Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma) After the doctor left I said, “I don’t want cancer” and cried... Roger’s had left but returned and had a prayer with us. Soon Dad and Mom Smith and Valentina came. Folks Smith spent a couple nights nearby. Preparations were soon made to transfer me to the cancer center at UNC. By Friday evening I had been moved to the cancer center, a nice roomy room with a beautiful view of the sunset.
Since being at UNC they’ve kept me on pain meds, mostly thru IV. On Wednesday they started me on steroids to begin shrinking the cancer and plans are being made to begin chemo on Monday. My parents, and sister Lori, arrived early Saturday morning. Dad and Mom Smith rented a house near the hospital, for them and my parents, for a week. Today has been a leisure day, with my parents and Alex’s parents and Ang Toews here. They brought lunch up and we all ate together in my room.
Christmas cards are collecting on a bulletin board across from my bed and candies sit in a dish beside me... Christmas carols sing in the hospital... Valentina opens presents at random times, it’s her first Christmas, she just turned 11 months... and we’re thankful for family, friends, and the 99% chance of a cure!
Well we made it home. It was soooo good to go home. But it’s good to be back to my home here to. The ride started out pretty rocky for me. I didn’t take my anti nausea meds last night so I was sick for the first few hours. Tomorrow is my biopsy at 10. Pray that it’s not to painful. And that it’s good news