A bit of history...I was sitting in my office (June 2005) and noticed a lump above my left clavicle and my first thought was it was a fatty lipoma. Saw my family doctor and he concurred. "Give it a month and if it has not gone away, we will get a CAT scan on it."
A month goes by and I went to see a local general surgeon and he thought it was a lymph node and suggested surgery. Which I know that surgeons get paid to do surgeries, and got a different opinion, SO I went for a third opinion to another surgeon in Louisville, KY. She thought it was a lymph node. Got a CAT scan and it was suggestive of Hodgkin's. She did a biopsy (10/05) and the pathology concurred that it was Nodular Lymphoma-Hodgkin's. She calls me with the results as I'm walking downtown at Harvest Homecoming with my daughter Katie and I just couldn't recall the significance of Hodgkin's but my memory banks was telling me, it was not good. The first person I called was my ex-wife thinking she would know what it was and needless to say I was devastated to hear that I had CANCER!
I went back to see my family doctor (post-op) and he said he did not think that I had cancer that the path report is telling him something else! We had the slides move to our local hospital for a second opinion. This was an emotional roller-coaster ride...do I have cancer...do I not have cancer. I was getting a bit pissed over all this but while getting my initial oncology consult with Dr. Chowhan~Great Guy! he told me that I had Hodgkin's for sure.
I recall still being in denial and he was setting out a plan of treatment and all I could hear was blah blah blah blah...and we can do the bilateral bone marrow taps now if you want! WHAT??
YIKES! I said no way but we rescheduled that for the following week. This was pretty emotional for my Mother and me since I was still leaning that it was not cancer. He said that if anyone was going to have cancer that I had the best cancer you can get! WOW, I said, thanks a lot! Not very happy at that point but he continued to say that it is highly treatable 90-95% recovery rate. That helped to bring me back up a bit but we proceeded in treatment discussion.
4-drugs (Chemo) with 6 months of treatment one treatment every two weeks.
Pre-treatment work up consisted of CAT scan of my neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis. PET scan of my entire body-head to above knees. Pulmonary study and a heart echo. Blood work up etc. Bilateral bone marrow taps. The results of the CT, as I recall showed a cyst on one of my kidneys, Lymph involvement above my left clavicle (which we knew about) measurable lymph axillary’s and that was about it. The PET scan (which shows cancer areas) showed Lt. Clavicle area-a lot of involvement. Right of midline in my abdomen and pelvis. All this consistent with Lymph and didn’t sound to be invading on other structures. Pulmonary was like 98% which I impressed the technician saying no one has done this well in a long time. Echo as I recall them saying was normal as well.
Bone marrow taps were not that bad and they were normal. I had an infussion port placed in my right chest wall under surgery with my local general surgeon.
Now was the time that I had to tell myself that I HAVE CANCER and start dealing with it. All my friends were praying for me. I had the Elders in my church lay hands on me. I read a great book by Lance Armstrong that should be a must for anyone with cancer "It's Not About The Bike" My Mom is just a basket case and is more scared than I am and to some degree I feel a bit strange bringing my Mom with me. It's almost like she has to hold my hand but I can't forget, I will always be her baby.