Friday, September 29, 2006

The sound of crickets chirping

No news yet. I did get in touch with Dr. T. He had not yet heard about my wayward lymph node (and on hearing about it his first response was "I told you you were an interesting case." He could have said it with a little less zest, but I hate to take the fun out of a fellas job.)

I have a follow-up appointment with Dr. T. scheduled for next Tuesday; by then he should know enough to recommend a treatment for me. Whatever it is I won't start until I get back from my mini-vacation on October 10th.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

More confused than ever

Last time we checked in with our plucky hero he was patiently awaiting the results of last weeks lump-fishing expedition. As you may recall, the purpose of this biopsy was to determine the nature of the mystery lump on my back. If the lump was benign, it would mean that there was just the lymphoma to deal with, and the oncologists wanted to start me on Rituxan, a new form of targeted therapy for non-Hodgkins lymphoma patients, one with relatively few side-effects. If the lump was malignant, it would mean I had TWO types of cancer, and a more conventional chemotherapy would be called for.

So what was the result of the biopsy? Well, it was malignant....but it was actually another malignant lymph node. Of course most human beings don't have lymph nodes on their lower backs. So it turns out Dr. T. wasn't joking when he called me "interesting."

Now what does this mean for my treatment? I have no clue, and I'm hoping to hear back from Dr. T., the oncologist, to help straighten me out.

One thing I do know, though -- I've had that lump on my back for at least 4 years. So if you needed proof that I really do have lazy, slacker cancer there it is. Four years and I never knew.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Homeostasis of lumps

As Beth mentioned I went under the knife Monday to have one lump removed and another installed. Lots of folks have expressed interest in the Portacath so I've posted a few pics showing where it sits and what it looks like. It doesn't hurt much anymore but it still feels odd, like it doesn't belong there. I imagine I'll get used to it sooner or later.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Holes on both sides of him

A quick post to let folks know that Dan successfully had his second biopsies and portacath installed yesterday at Doctor's Hospital. An unwieldly gall bladder in the patient scheduled before us delayed the procedures by almost three hours, but Dan came through fine. He's feeling this round of surgery more than the initial lymph node removal, but that could be caused by several factors -- location of the incisions, how deep or shallow they cut, the fact that he had two procedures done at the same time.

And once again, it took multiple tries to get his IV in. Dan's got great veins, but they seem to thwart every nurse's attempt to invade them. Guess we should be glad they'll do chemo via the portacath rather than IV. (Which begs the question: do heroin users ever get portacaths installed? It would make sense that there's a black-market portacath installation service. They gave Dan a little portacath accoutrement kit, which I threatened to make him carry around in a black leather fanny pak, a la heroin addicts.)

Biopsies results should be complete by the end of the week, first part of next. The best outcome would be that the lipoma removed yesterday for biopsies is not malignant. These results will determine the type and frequency of chemo.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Other people with cancer

One of our earliest posts was on the Rules of Cancer, which basically consisted of staying off the Internet until you've talked to your doctor.

Once that hurdle is cleared though, get your Google-fu going because it's open season on searches.

However, having gone through a pretty intense and vaguely obscure illness myself recently has done a good job of dampening my enthusiasm for other people's health information (OPHI). Bottom line, it's irrelevant and useless. If your own damn doctor changes your diagnosis every other Tuesday, then what good is anyone else's cancer blog?

I'm breaking my own protocol here to refer y'all to one of my Internet heroes, Twisty Faster of I Blame the Patriarchy, who was diagnosed with breast cancer more than a year ago. Several brutal treatments later, she offered the following:
    . . . no matter how bottom-of-the-barrel crappy your life seemed before, it was an azure-skied, gardenia-scented island in paradise compared to the balls-out nightmare into which the giant flying claw of Fate drops you when you get cancer.
Amen, sister.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

My wife made me call you . . . again

After a week-long game of phone tag with the surgeon's office and the hospital, Dan's next round of surgery is scheduled for Monday afternoon, Sept. 11. The suspect lipoma will be removed and biopsied and the portacath will be inserted. Both are minor, quick procedures, and the prep and recover will be the longest part of the day.

Dan made so many calls that he knows the names of all the admin staff, their vacation schedules, their kids' names, and what they studied in college. One time when he called, the receptionist tried to transfer him to the surgical coordinator who was out of the office. Dan had to tell the receptionist Janice was filling in for Maria this week while Maria was in Connecticut visiting her mother who's having some gout problems this summer.