I’m celebrating today. The big event? The conclusion of three and a half weeks of daily radiation treatments.
What? You didn’t know I was undergoing radiation therapy? That’s probably because I haven’t really mentioned it to many people, nor have I ever mentioned it here on the site. So here’s the story.
Over Christmas, I began to get a little concerned about this bump which was located right around my collarbone. It seemed a little like a pimple or an ingrown hair, but there didn’t seem to be a head, and it wasn’t going away. It didn’t hurt, but it itched like hell. I decided to have it looked at in mid-January.
My doctor first hypothesized that it was some sort of bug bite and that I should try Bacitracin for ten days. When that didn’t work, we moved into the biopsy stage, never really thinking it was anything terribly serious. Apparently, we were wrong. The biopsy came back on 16 February just in time for the wedding anniversary. The verdict: early-stage non-Hodgkins lymphoma. In other words, cancer. I was, suffice to say, a little taken aback.
The next few weeks were frustrating as hell as I tried to get an oncologist appointment and was faced with a practice which seemed more concerned with my insurance coverage than my cancer and would not return phone calls. After two weeks, I finally succeeded in getting an appointment with a different practice, one that didn’t suck and that actually had working telephones.
This was followed by assorted blood tests (I’ve had plenty of those in the past five years so they don’t bother me), an HIV test (negative, as I knew it would be, but they always make one a bit paranoid), a CT scan (no big deal), a PET scan (a slightly bigger deal), and the most miserable procedure of all: a bone marrow biopsy. Avoid ever having the latter performed on you, if you can. I still cringe thinking about it.
In the midst of all this, we also started buying a house. Interestingly enough, I think this actually reduced rather than increased my stress level, because it gave me a project to take my mind off the cancer. I sometimes think a certain murderinghusband might have planned it that way when he suggested we start looking more intensively. He’s been pretty thoroughly wonderful through the whole thing, by the way, allowing me to talk when I wanted to, but not pushing when I didn’t, and generally keeping me from becoming morbidly obsessed.
Taking the two road trips (Columbus and Atlanta) was a big help too.
On 22 March, I received guardedly optimistic news. On 29 March, I got my “official” diagnosis: Stage 1AE Subcutaneous B-cell Lymphoma. It’s apparently very treatable with radiation alone, and I stand a 75% chance of being cured outright, with no further treatment. All in all, it was the best news I could have gotten, short of “we fucked up and you don’t really have cancer.”
Today, I had the final treatment, number 18. Tomorrow morning, I will stay in bed until I wake up, even though that will probably happen at the same time as usual, if not even earlier.
Is there a guarantee I’ll be 100% cancer-free? No. Will I be a little paranoid for the rest of my life? Of course. But I think I’m in pretty good shape. I choose to believe that the nasty stuff is now gone. And I’m really excited about washing these damned blue marks off my neck and about not having to go into a lab every morning to look up at a huge nuclear weapon pointed at my chest.
I don’t really want to write much more on the subject, either. I will not have this become “David’s Lymphoma Support Site” or anything like that. I try not to dwell on it. This isn’t denial. It’s an acknowledgement that I have other things I’d rather think about. Short of having the required checkups and tests when needed, there’s not a damned thing I can really do about the cancer anyway, so why spend too much time stressing over it?
I never felt the need to join a support group, and with all due respect, I don’t really want to hear people’s cancer stories and anecdotes, happy or sad. As I told my parents, I’d really rather not have this become the only topic of conversation in my universe. I do appreciate your good wishes. And presents are always nice too, although I guess it’s a rather crass suggestion.
I just sort of wanted to let all of you know what’s been going on, since it may have seemed a little obvious that something was.