They told me I would probably lose my hair within a week after my first chemo treatment. I was happy as can be when that day came and passed and I still had my hair. I even went out and got another trim as an acct of defiance. Never feel smug when you have your hair post chemo. Chances are you are not that lucky. Mine started to fall out today. I need to say I don’t have all my hair to begin with, so losing my hair is more of a continuation of nature’s own process. Just a bit faster. Oh well I guess the weak ones already gave up and these are the holdouts. I appreciate it you hardy bastards, but I give you permission to do as you must.
So Chemo continues to be a breeze for me. No sickness of any sort, just some fatigue. The thing that caused me the most annoyance post Chemo was my PICC line. First it was saturation of the dressing for a few days post Chemo, followed by some really strong pain a few days later. It turns out I formed a blood clot in my neck. I learned blood clots can hurt like hell. Who knew?
It turns out it is not common but definitely not unheard of for this to happen. I was so geared up to think Chemo was going to suck and ruin my Christmas that to actually find out it was my PICC line was almost funny. Thankfully pain meds exists and with them keeping pain in check I can stay comfortable. Blood thinners are keeping the issue from getting worse, and they will be with me for a while.
I have follow up with my Oncologist tomorrow to see how my blood counts are progressing and to see how the blood thinning drugs are doing.
For what it is worth, I still have my hair.
My Chemo was scheduled for 0930 on a Monday. Evidently the R-CHOP regimen goes very slowly the first time because the primary drug Rituximab impacts some folks very strongly with some scary side effects. Initial dosing is low and progresses slowly for hours until all is administered. I knew if I had problems they would slow the drip or even stop it altogether. I had some scary moments where I had a hard time breathing but thankfully that passed just as I was about to tap out.
The other drugs in the Chemo cocktail went much faster. My favorite was Doxorubicin Hydrochloride or “Red Devil”. The stuff is so toxic it has to be administered by hand. Disgustingly red in color, the visual alone is nerve wracking. Something that color should definitely NOT be injected into my veins. Hell, not even in yours for that matter. The stuff is simply vile looking, it even turns your urine red.
Other than taking over seven and a half hours to complete the Chemo it was all rather uneventful. I was never ill, never vomited and the worst was a sore butt from sitting all day. It dawned on me as my wife drove me home that I was simply blessed and standing on the shoulders of so many that struggled with Chemo in the past. How do you possibly thank so many people that endured so much over decades. The thought of others sacrificing and enduring so much was truly humbling. Peeing red was a bonus.
I met with my Oncologist again on the 16th with the hopes of learning a bit more. The Oncologist told me we are certain it is Non Hodgkins Lymphoma, but beyond that not enough detail has come from the biopsy to tell for sure. I learned the treatment plan was to be 6 chemo treatments of R-Chop at a minimum as results would dictate the future. I can’t say I was very happy and asked what else we could do now to speed the typing and staging of my cancer. Sometimes you have to be careful what you ask because I got a bone marrow biopsy for asking that one.
I think a bone marrow biopsy is something best left as a nondescript procedure that involves pain and odd sensations. I recommend having it done in the presence of someone that calms you and brings you comfort. My wife fit the bill nicely. Thank God for my wife, she is a never ending source of strength for me. I love her more every day and am in awe of her strength and perseverance.
First Chemo is December 22nd. With any luck I will still have hair by Christmas.
December 10th, 2014. My 46th Birthday and the day I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin Lymphoma. Not a banner day by any means. You see this kind of stuff all the time in the movies and such. It was rather anti-climactic in my case. I knew I had something it was just official now. My mass graduated to tumor and I was invited to take a CT guided needle biopsy on Friday.
The office staff at my oncologist’s office seemed genuinely sad that I received this news on my Birthday. I honestly believe heaven has a large contingent of oncology nurses cruising around. They are genuinely kind and generous people.
The drive home with my wife was a quiet one. I had already told my employer something was going on, and now that I had so much more detail and a preliminary diagnosis I was faced with not only telling work, but also my three kids and my family.
I went in for my very first CT scan on Friday December 5th, 2014. I chose banana drink. They all suck, pick whatever you want. Easy stuff I swear I could see sadness in the tech’s eyes doing the CT scan. She was cheerful when we started and came back a bit quieter and wished me luck.
My wife and I met with my Doc on Tuesday December 9th. He said the CT confirmed a large lymphatic mass in my abdomen. It was exerting pressure on my stomach, but was not attached to any surrounding organs. I was a bit shocked at the news and when I glanced over to my wife I saw she was as well. Not great news, but it could be worse. Essentially congrats, you have a lymphoma of some sort. Next stop- Oncologist.
It all started in early December, or rather it started to become something I could no longer ignore.
I am a very typical 45 year old man. Married 24+ yrs, 3 kids and a good job. My only problem was I have been feeling poorly for several months and it had begun to get progressively worse before Thanksgiving. I had dropped 35 pounds since the Summer and I was down to zero appetite. I knew something was not right so I set up my first Dr Appointment in over 5 years.
The Doc felt something that was out of place in my abdomen and did an ultrasound the same day. He called it a large mass in my abdomen. I realized a little later “mass” is a nice way of saying tumor so you don’t have to call it cancer yet. Next stop was a CT scan and some blood work. For some reason even at this point I was not even thinking cancer.