Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the day “September 11, 2014”

Lymphoma – Rare And Complicated

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 3bNS

That is a fairly simple grouping of letters and words.  But they are much more complicated than that.  Yes, that was my diagnosis, but it would also determine the treatment modes to use.

There are so many determining factors in how to fight this rare cancer.  The cancer itself is rare enough, affecting just 1% of all cancer diagnosis.  But when broken down…the decision on which treatments to use, and which side effects to risk, the individual characteristics will make the biggest impact working along side the body’s own physiological issues (height, weight, metabolism).

The obvious part of the equation, is figuring out Hodgkin’s.  For me, it was seeing the Reed-Steinberg cells in the pathology from biopsies that were done.  There are other diagnostics for claiming Hodgkin’s, but all involve B lymphocytes – a white blood cell meant to help the body dispose of garbage in our bodies (I have simplified the definition).  Easiest way to think about it, your lymph system is what fights your illnesses.  B lymphocytes help that process along.

Once the diagnosis is made, then the classification and stage needs to be determined.

There are four types of Hodgkin’s.  Ranked in order of commonness, most common is Nodular Sclerosing, or as you saw in my grouping, NS.  NS makes up about 75% of Hodgkin’s diagnosis, followed by lymphocyte predominant, mixed cellularity, and the least common, lymphocyte depleted which makes up only 5% of the diagnosis.

Staging is also important because not only do you need to know how aggressive the disease is, you need to know where it is located.  With numbers ranking 1-4, with one being the least serious to 4 being the most serious, here are their definitions:

Stage 1     only one lymph node or area is involved

Stage 2     two or more nodes or areas located on the same side of the diaphragm

Stage 3     disease found in nodes on both sides of the diaphragm (even though the spleen is an organ, it is considered part of the lymph area.

Stage 4     other areas of the body involved (like lungs, liver, bone marrow)

I put Stage 3 in my title because that is what is says on my reports.  But knowing that my spleen was fully involved, pretty much seals it that I was stage 4.  But I have one more letter in my equation above, which really only serves to say it is bad, or worse.

A simple two letters are added, either “a” or “b”.  Which means “with symptoms” or “without symptoms”.  These particular symptoms that are being referred to are common, fever, night sweats, or significant weight loss.

Once the doctors have diagnosed, classified, and staged the Hodgkin’s, then it is time to determine the best mode of treatment.

Cancer And Music

There is an expression, “music calms the savage beast.”  Cancer is a savage beast.  Today’s chemo suites are nothing compared to the dungeonous type environments of today.  While attending my father’s chemotherapy sessions with him, it was not uncommon to see an elderly gentleman playing guitar singing Jimmy Buffet.  This was never the case during my chemo days decades ago.

I have always found solace in music.  No matter the difficult times that I have faced in my life, and there have been many, music has always gotten me through it.  Whether dancing, singing, playing, or simply listening to it, music has a way of helping us relax and focus.  As it was when I went through my chemo.

Each appointment, I sat in the chair, placed my headphones on my ears (we did not have ear buds then), and pressed play on my Walkman (for those of you who have no idea what that is, along with vinyl and 8-track and cassette tapes – the Walkman played CD’s before music became convenient on an Ipod).  From there, I would let my music that I selected that day, take me to places far away in my mind, while the chemo flushed through my body healing me.  The music helped keep me calm and distract me for the two hours or so that I was there.

Today, much of the music that I listened to, serves as a reminder, taking me back to a place I was long ago.  And I remember what music did for me then, and when I have troubles today, I simply reach out for the same thing that continues to get me through my times of strife, music.

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