Wednesday, July 31, 2013

1st Meeting With My Oncologist

Today I met with my oncologist for the first time - she's pretty awesome.  Super nice and very informative.  This is kind of long post, but here's all the information I have so far:

Tests, Tests, and More Tests
In the next couple of weeks, I'll have to have:

  • Bone Marrow Biopsy (not looking forward to this one) to make sure the cancer hasn't spread to my bone marrow - not likely but they test anyway.  Read more about it here.
  • Heart and Lung function tests - the chemo can cause heart and lung complications, so they test everyone first to make sure everything is normal - which it should be
  • PET scan to see if the cancer is anywhere but in the one zone of lymph nodes - not very likely and this will determine what stage I'm in (which we're still assuming it's Stage I)
  • Surgery to have the port put in - the port will be placed under my skin on my upper chest and will be used for blood draws, IV medicine, and chemo.  
  • Blood Work out the Wazoo to check pretty much everything else
Bloodwork - can be done any time before August 5th so I'll probably just go get it done this week
PET Scan and Heart and Lung Tests - all scheduled for Tuesday, August 6 - these will take pretty much all day
Bone Marrow Biopsy - scheduled for Friday, August 9
Port Surgery - not sure yet, they will call me in a day or two and let me know when the surgeon can get me in (possibly next week, but probably early the next week)
Chemo - first round will be Monday August 19

Chemo begins August 19.  I will have a minimum of 6 treatments, which is considered 3 "rounds," of ABVD, which is actually 4 different types of chemo.  Read more about ABVD here.  Each treatment will last 3-4 hours and will be done at the Hemotology and Oncology Center of Indianapolis (next to St.Vincent Hospital on 86th Street).  They basically hook me up and let me sit - sounds fun, right?  Visitors welcome :)

I'll be able to drive myself to chemo treatments, but the doctor said I may be tired after treatments and may prefer to have a ride.  I figure I'll see how I do for the first one (Josh is taking me to that one) and decide if I need rides or not.  This may be something we need help with.

After 6 treatments, I'll have another PET scan to determine how the treatment is working and how much more chemo (if any) I'll need.  If the tumors are gone after 6 treatments, they may move right into Radiation and do that for about a month.

The most common side effect is nausea, which is apparently worse in young people (weird, huh?).  They'll give me anti-nausea medication through my port before each chemo session and they'll send me home with anti-nausea prescriptions.  Fatigue is the other big side effect, which will limit some work and social activities.

Hair Loss
Unfortunately this is going to happen.  Type of treatment I'll be receiving almost always causes hair loss.  But that means we get to have a head-shaving party and I get to pick out some fun wigs, hats, and scarves.  I'm thinking a bright pink wig, what do you think?!  :)

In all honesty, I know this part will super duper suck - but it's just hair, I'll get over it!  Hair loss is expected about 2-3 weeks after my chemo starts.

That's about it on my first appointment.  I'm anxious to get all my tests done and get started on chemo to get this thing out of my body!  Keep me in your thoughts and please keep Josh and the rest of my family in your thoughts, too - I'm sure this is just as hard on them.  More updates to come!


Monday, July 29, 2013

A Visit With The Surgeon

Let me first say that I love my friends.  I spent most of the weekend with different groups of friends and had so much fun!  No one made me feel awkward and everyone was able to make light of the situation.  Humor and laughter will get me through this!  I've said it already, but the support Josh and I have received from everyone has been so overwhelmingly wonderful!

This morning I met with the surgeon who did my excisional biopsy on July 17 (when they cut me open and sliced off a chunk of my lymph node).  She says my incision is healing up beautifully - and I have to agree, it looks great!  She said they weren't able to take out the entire lymph node due to it's size - it would have been too big of a risk considering the carotid artery is so close.  Good new is, they won't have to go back in to take the rest of it out.  Chemo should take care of that.

She also told me about the surgery to have a port put in for chemo.  I don't know yet if I'll need one (she assumed I probably would), but she'll be the one to do the surgery if I do.  I love this surgeon, so I'm glad she'd be the one doing it.

A port (or portocath) is basically a device implanted beneath the skin (usually on the upper chest) that attaches to a major vein.  This port will be used for blood draws and to administer chemo and other medications.  It eliminates the need to stick an IV in my arm or hand each time.  Considering how much trouble they have getting IVs in me, I'm kind of hoping this is the route they go!

Read more about ports here.

I meet with the oncologist on Wednesday and should have a ton more info to share then.


Friday, July 26, 2013

My Friends Are Awesome

I am overwhelmed, thankful, and so blessed to have such a positive outpouring of support, encouragement, and kind words.  Friends I haven't talked to in years reached out to let me know they were thinking about me.  Family from all over the country called, emailed, and texted their love and encouragement.

Last night 4 of my closest friends got together for dinner at our place.  We laughed, poked fun at cancer, and made jokes about my diagnosis - it was the absolute best thing that could have happened last night.  I am so incredibly thankful for those friends and for everyone else who has gotten in touch.

I truly am blessed to have such a great support system.  Thank you to all who have sent me messages, Josh and I are so thankful to have you all on our side.

Melissa (and Josh)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Beginning: July 25, 2013

This morning I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Even as I type it, it doesn't seem real.  Two months ago I discovered a lump in my neck and assumed it was absolutely nothing.  Never did I imagine I'd have cancer.  Cancer.  Nope, still doesn't feel real.

I don't have many answers now.  I should meet with an oncologist tomorrow and will figure out where we go from here.  At this point, I know it's definitely treatable and I know that I will beat this.

Check back as often as you want, I'll be posting throughout my treatment so everyone can see that I'm doing ok :-)  I'm sure it won't be a fun journey, but I'm thankful to have a great husband and an amazing support system on my side.  Everything will be ok!

The "My Diagnosis" tab above has more information on the last two months leading up to the diagnosis, check it out.  Feel free to ask questions.  Feel free to talk to me about it.  More to come soon....

For more information on Hodgkin's Lymphoma, check out the "About Lymphoma" tab above or visit the Mayo Clinic website here.