The continuation of my journey

The last few months have definitely been a huge roller coaster ride. Things have been up and down constantly. Let me give you an update.

As you know, on March 23, 2004 I was diagnosed with a type of cancer called lymphoma. A week later, after meeting with my Hematologist, I was given a more detailed form: Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. ‘Nuff said. That day, during my meeting, I was immediately admitted into the Health Sciences, floor 4 north A. I had no idea what to expect.

After spending one night in hospital, all the procedures began. I had a bone marrow biopsy done (which may I add is not that pleasant), plus I had a hickman catheter put into my chest. This catheter is what all of my blood work and treatments would be done through. I was put in hospital on a Wednesday. On Saturday, I would start my first round of chemo. Part A!

My room was constantly filled with family and friends. It was excellent to see how much support I had, although it was very tiring.

For four days, I underwent treatment. I believe it was a Friday when I was discharged. I went home feeling fine, but of course, slowly, things stared to drop. I became tired, and weak, although I wasn’t sick at all. I guess those anti-nausea drugs they give you to take really work! It’s just that the chemo had started to make all my blood counts drop. Nothing unusual.

The next two weeks I was back and fourth to the hospital for blood work, and then two weeks later, out came my hair! It started to fall out, so I said, “alright, enough of this” and I shaved it off. I’ll be honest, it didn’t bother me the least. It was almost a relief because when your hair starts to fall out it hurts!

Once I started to get my energy back, BOOM! admitted back in for Part B of my treatment. Another smack at the cancer cells! Four or five days in hospital again. Once I was out, I felt good, and once again, a few days later, I was tired and weak again. After about five days, I was put back in hospital with a fever. That’s something that’s not uncommon either.

A fever usually indicates an infection somewhere in the body. When the chemo starts to eat away at the cancer cells, it also eats away at your good cells, such as your white blood cells that help to fight off infection.

So, I was in hospital on antibiotics for five or six days. Once my blood counts were up again, and my fever was down, I was out.

I have managed to undergo three full rounds of my regularly scheduled 4 rounds of chemo so far. Lots of trips in and out of hospital, lots of antibiotics to be taking, and lots of tests being done.

Just recently I had visited Halifax for assessment about a stem cell transplant. While there, after meeting with the transplant coordinator and doctor, I was told that a transplant was no longer in my recent future.

The doctor had said that I was responding to my treatment, and that his opinion was to go on with my last round of chemo, and go on a “maintenance” program.

I’m not really sure what exactly “maintenance” is, but I do know it’s still chemo treatment I would undergo for up to two years, but it would allow me to go back to school, work, etc. The doc said that once all that was over with, if my cancer had not gone away, or if it came back, THEN I would have to have a transplant. He saw no reason to put me through a transplant and its risks if I was doing well. Apparently 30-50 per cent of people have life-threatening complications when they undergo this type of transplant. That was that.

I was happy enough. Not only would I not have to go away for up to three months for a transplant, but I was closer to getting my life back to normal.

But that’s when things changed.

As soon as I returned home from Halifax, the very next day, I woke up with pains in my joints, just like before, and all the lymph nodes in my neck were swollen and big again. GREAT! Just what I needed. I went to see my doctor and informed him of what had happened. I’m sure you can guess what he said. It was something along the lines of, “Well obviously your chemo isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. We’ll have to contact Halifax and let them know the situation. I think the only thing that will work now is a transplant.”

So here it goes again! As of right now, I just finished another round of chemo. New drugs. They decided to change from the ones I was on because they weren’t working. They are hoping these drugs will stop my cancer from spreading for now. Long enough to get me to Halifax again. I am scheduled to go the beginning of October for a transplant. I will admit that it’s nerve racking and extremely scary. There are many risks involved with this transplant, but I am trying to best to prepare, both mentally and physically. I know the next few months are going to be rough. I’ll be away from home, away from all my family and friends, and may not even be home for Christmas. But if that’s what it takes for me to get better, then let’s go!

I’ll keep you updated the best I can within the next few months. Wish me luck!

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