When Mike was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in November, after having severe bouts of stomach pain, we were in shock and overwhelmed. We were told the cancer was aggressive but that his prognosis was good. After 6 rounds of chemo, he is expected to be in remission. He goes in for chemo every three weeks. We are almost halfway there, as Mike goes in for his third round of chemo on January 21. He has his good days and bad days, mostly nauseated and feeling extremely exhausted, he says it's like have a bad hangover every day. After his first round of chemo, his white blood cell count was dangerously low causing him to run fevers and chills for five days. They mitigated that with a patch that he wore for 48 hours after the second round, so we hope his white blood cells stay steady. His hemoglobin is also low which could mean a blood transfusion unless it goes up in the next week. He has gone in for two iron infusions which should help stabilize his blood cell count. We are anxiously awaiting for the PET scan to be scheduled so we can see how much the tumors have shrunk and if the partial bowel obstruction has subsided so he can eat more foods. He is now experimenting with soft foods and even managed to eat a veggie burrito without too much pain. He will continue to avoid meat and other hard to digest foods. But, this isn't a bad thing as he now realizes that being a vegetarian is actually good for him. At this time Mike is unable to work because he needs to stay away from people who are ill, his energy levels are extremely low and he is constantly going to doctors' appointments. Unfortunately, the chemo has stripped of his this black hair. We ended up shaving today. We will keep you updated through Caring Bridge. Again, we do appreciate everyone's support during this time. We know that all the love and support we are receiving is what will get us through these next several months.
A BIT OF BACKGROUND:
Mike was experiencing stomach pain since August 2019. He tried to get an appointment with a gastrointestinal doctor but it was taking forever. After a terrible night in pain, on November 10th, he decided to go to the ER. They did a CT scan and found a large tumor around his right kidney. He was admitted to the hospital and further tests were done. A biopsy revealed he had B-cell non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It's aggressive and spreading quickly. While waiting for all of his tests to come back it was revealed that the disease had spread to his sinuses, back and possibly to his intestines. Even though it's a scary thing to hear, his doctor is convinced Mike has a good prognosis with aggressive treatment.
What is it? Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma is cancer that originates in your lymphatic system, the disease-fighting network spread throughout your body. In non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, tumors develop from lymphocytes — a type of white blood cell.
What causes it? In most cases, doctors don't know what causes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In some cases, it's due to a weakened immune system. But it begins when your body produces too many abnormal lymphocytes — a type of white blood cell.
Normally, lymphocytes go through a predictable life cycle. Old lymphocytes die, and your body creates new ones to replace them. In non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, your lymphocytes don't die but continue to grow and divide. This oversupply of lymphocytes crowds into your lymph nodes, causing them to swell.
What is the Treatment? Mike has to undergo an aggressive cocktail of chemotherapy and along with it, he experiences a myriad of symptoms like feeling weak, nauseous, terrible muscle aches, and he is susceptible to colds, flu, and infections. This is because the chemo reduces his white blood cell count making it harder for his body to ward off illnesses. He has been on a difficult liquid diet for almost two months and will not be able to return to eating normally until the tumors have sufficiently decreased in size to where it's not unsafe to eat solid food again. Mike will undergo 8 hours of chemotherapy one day and then he will have three weeks off. He will need to repeat this schedule for an estimated time frame of six months. Of course, the treatment could be longer or shorter depending on how Mike responds along the way. We will keep you informed as we get new information.