Monday, March 24, 2008

My doctor soul mate...

Update time!

So the first oncologist/hematologist that I saw was a total goon. I'm not going to name names, this is the internet after all, but he really put me off. The most disturbing thing about him perhaps was that when I asked about my fertility preservation options he began talking about sperm. I thought, "fine, he'll get to my eggs..." but NO! He went on about sperm! So I felt the need to remind him I have no sperm. He said, "Oh I know, but I don't know anything about what to do for women." Great, so just pretend I'm a dude!

Not that this is a huge factor in my doctor decision-making, but there was a slight language barrier too. As in, "this is a happy cancer!" Well where's my party hat and dancing shoes?!
The one good thing he did was push up my CT scan and Muga (a heart test to see if my heart can tolerate the battering effects of the A in ABVD). All I had to do was tear up a bit when he said they'd get done next week. So I got them done that evening and the following day.

But enough about Dr. Sperm... today I met the most glorious of doctors. A business associate of my dad's gave him the name of some doc at UCLA here in Santa Clarita. At my father's repetitive insistence that I call to get a second opinion, I reluctantly dialed them this morning. The most pleasant receptionist fit me in today, the same day, to see him. And he is fabulous! For the first time I feel truly positive about everything and I want him absolutely as my doctor. He just had kind eyes and I got "a feeling." And the office was clean and lovely and 5 minutes from my home. Perfection! And with a name like UCLA in front of it, I have peace of mind.

My hair will fall out though.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Oh, the big "C"

Ignore the previous posts. They were written by a different girl. One that didn't have the worries of cancer and chemotherapy and ports and scans and hair loss and radiation. One that never had to confront mortality. Her biggest concern was what colors to select for her wedding, or whether or not her beloved wedding would have to be scheduled on an odd numbered day *pout*. She timidly (and yet with great excitement) tiptoed her way to a career as a teacher. She occupied her thoughts with floorplans of homes that she hoped to buy with her fiancee. She daydreamed of the KitchenAid mixer she would register for and the baked goodies she would create in her gleaming granite and stainless steel kitchen.

Well fuck her.

I'm here to replace that girl. I just turned 24 and two days before my birthday was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. What began as a persistent cough that lasted about a month turned into a sharp lung pain that alarmed Adam and me enough to take me to urgent care. An abnormal x-ray led to a trip via ambulance to a nearby hospital for a ct scan. I figured I had pneumonia. Mildly annoyed that I was missing dinner, I was completely blindsided when a doctor came in and said they suspected cancer, and that I would be admitted that evening, left to see an oncologist the following morning. That night as I tried to sleep in the hospital room I shared with a woman who was clutching to life with all she had left in her, I perspired profusely. That's when I realized the night sweats I'd been having for months were probably not the fault of our new mattress, but rather more signs of something seriously wrong with me. I was scheduled to have a biopsy on March 6th on a lymph node in my neck.

On Saturday, the 8th, I got a phone call from a doctor something or other. Did I want to come in for him to explain what they found or did he just want me to have him tell me over the phone? I asked him to let me have it. He said my biopsy results were consistent with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. And he added, for good measure, I'm sure, "If I were to get cancer, this is the one I would want to have." Oh boy, the good cancer!

I did what I could. I calmly wrote down the disease on a piece of paper, said thank you and hung up. I looked at my mom, dad and Adam and said, "I have Hodgkin's Lymphoma." Then I screamed. They all held me tight, but the looks in their eyes hurt the most. I felt like I was letting them all down. My dad said "You'll beat this." I really hope I don't have to let them all down again.

Now I have the long wait to hear what stage I am in. After some research online I've determined that I have "B" symptoms, which include night sweats and fatigue and whatnot, which adversely affect my prognosis but again, I don't want to jump to any conclusions. What I want is to see the best doctor there is for this and have him tell me confidently that it is going to be alright.

If there is anything that this news has done is that it's made me realize how trivial my "problems" were before. I want to be able to experience my life, my whole life, and be around for a long time. I want to travel and see things that I've never seen. I want to get married (but no longer care about locations and bustles and centerpieces) and have children. I want to see my childrens' lives. I don't want to hurt the people around me, the people that love me and that I love. I've seen an outpouring of support from friends and family and it's been encouraging.

Now I just have to wait and see.

I really don't want to lose my hair.