Monday, November 15, 2010
Finally, a Diagnosis and Treatment Plan!
I am so relieved to finally have a diagnosis- it's exactly what we thought it was in the beginning! Classic Hodgkin's Lymphoma, which is what 80% of HL patients have. The good news- it's the most curable! The bad news, it's stage IV B, which is the most advanced of the "classic" HL. It's scary, but Doctor Goy was very optimistic, saying he thinks I will be cured and back on my feet in no time.
The treatment plan involves two cycles of ICE (Ifosfamide, Carboplatin, & Etoposide) followed by PET scans and whatever else needed to see if my tumors are responding well. Each cycle involves 3 days in the hospital hooked to an IV through which the chemicals are administered. Then, 10 days of Neupogen injections I'll be taught to administer at home. Assuming the scans after the cycles go well, my stem cells will then be removed from my body to be frozen for later transfusion. I will then receive 6 days of high-dose chemotherapy (inpatient). Then I'll have 10-12 days of stem-cell transplantation (official name: peripheral blood stem-cell transplant) where I'll be spending each day in the hospital but at night will be allowed to stay at an apartment on hospital grounds. I won't be able to be with my kids to ensure I don't get sick. However, I was told I might be able to see them for lunch in the hospital if I wear a mask and refrain from hugs and kisses! That will be a long several weeks!
Today's appointment was very emotional. We had to wait 2 hours again just to see the doctor. When he finally came in and said I had classic HL I heaved a sigh of relief and smiled at Adam. I even wrote "Yay!" in my planner. But then it was still scary- hearing I have stage 4, that I'll be having a stem-cell transplant, and that my brothers may have to be tested for a bone marrow match if the transplant doesn't go well. And of course, I'm sad to find out I'll be kept from seeing my family for long periods of time- though I know it could have been much worse!
Some things about today have really made me think though, and appreciate why it took so long to find this illness. At first I was angry when the doctor answered my question, "How long has this been growing in my body?" He looked surprised, almost like I should know the answer, and said, "years!" He said that in order to be this widespread, with as many tumors as I have, that it's been growing for years. The anger came after thinking of the yearly physicals I've been getting like clockwork. Why hadn't we caught this earlier? However, the more I thought about it, the more I felt a higher power at work. I have two children- ages 3 and 2. So this cancer has been growing for years? I recall too that I had chest pain with each pregnancy. It was especially bad during the month prior to conceiving Evan. I even went to see my family doc about it, and he prescribed a CT scan, as long as the pregnancy test came back negative. Well, it of course was positive, so I canceled the CT scan and had my precious Evan. Had I found the cancer before getting pregnant, I could have very well been sterilized by the treatment (it's a common side effect of stem-cell transplants). I can't imagine not having Evan as a part of our family.
So the overall outcome today was pretty good, all things considered. I will be going in to the hospital on Wednesday to begin my first round of ICE. I'm trying to decide what things to take with me so I can stay busy- wonder if one of my brothers will be sending me his PSP...? (Kidding brothers, I would never make you part with your precious PSP!) For sure I will be taking my laptop to keep my blog updated! I'd like to write more about my family and about how absolutely wonderful friends and family have been in supporting us- but I think I'll save that post for the long hours of the next few days. Thank you for following along and for your love and support!