Saturday, November 12, 2011

real life.

I wanted to start a blog so that I could keep everyone updated on Andrew's progress as we get through this disease.  We are so grateful for the huge amount of support and love we've received, and I quickly realized that it would be impossible to update everyone through emails.  So, some background ...

Andrew first noticed the weird lump on his neck around the end of September.  Neither of us thought much about it, as he's never had any serious medical issue.  We just thought it was a weird swollen gland from a virus or something.  About 2 weeks later he started having some symptoms, again virus-y -- just general fatigue and not feeling great.  We thought it was weird that the lump hadn't gone away.  I started googling.  Neck lumps, apparently, are never a good sign.  Finally, he was convinced to go to the GP and have it checked out -- just to be safe.  We never thought that it would actually be serious.  (Andrew's been to the doctor about twice in the 16 years that I've known him).  So he went -- and the GP recommended a CT scan.  Andrew wasn't sure if that was necessary, but he was still feeling crappy, so he went ahead and had it done on Monday, October 7th, with a scheduled oncology visit the next day.  We had the hospital fax the results to my step father, who is a surgeon, so he could consult on the results.  That night my stepfather called us with the news that it was lymphoma.

We were absolutely stunned.  In the back of your mind you always think "what if", but we didn't really, truly believe it would happen.  He's only 48.  The guy has never smoked a cigarette in his life, never had a serious medical issue, all relatives on both sides had lived or are living into old age.  No risk factors whatsoever.  I won't go into all the emotions, but it's obviously the worst nightmare of a happy couple with two small boys.  And I kept thinking, "Well this is real life.  We're mortal.  This is what people are going through all over the world, every day.  And now we are those people."   Our life changed in an instant.

We went to an oncologist in Kingston on Tuesday.  He confirmed what we knew and found a few more lumps under Andrew's arms.  He scheduled us for a biopsy on Thursday to determine the type and stage of the lymphoma.  By this time, Andrew's symptoms were increasing.  He was developing pain in certain ares of his body which made it very difficult to sleep, and the fatigue was increasing.  The biopsy went well, but Andrew had a difficult night. The surgeon had prescribed some heavy duty painkillers which really helped, and by Friday afternoon he was feeling much better.

During those very stressful few days my amazing sister and our dear friend Michael canvassed all of their contacts to find us the best treatment options.  Thanks to them, I was able to get Andrew into the care of the top Lymphoma specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City.  We now are in what seems like an endless wait for the biopsy results.  When the reports are ready they will be faxed by pathology to our doctor at MSK, and we will have our first appointment.  The biopsy will determine which kind of Lymphoma Andrew has (there are about 30 different kinds), and what stage.  Then we will begin treatment.  At this point we really don't know what to expect.  We've heard so many positive things -- Lymphoma is usually very treatable.  But we've heard so many different things about the treatment -- from 3 months to as long as a year of chemo.  So right now, we're just waiting, waiting, waiting ... I really wish these biopsy results didn't take so long!!


  1. Keeping you, Andrew, and the family in my thoughts and prayers. Sending lots of love your way. xxx