I saw it coming when the radiologist was doing an ultrasound of my neck to see if there were any signs of blood clots or cholesterol on the walls of my jugular veins that could explain the temporary ischemic incident I had experienced a few weeks before. She happened to look a bit below my left jugular and found and what looked like enlarged lymph node. A golf ball sized one at that! I knew something was awry when she called-in her colleague for a second opinion. The report to my family doctor said that is was likely a lymphoma or a metastatic ganglion. WOW, what a surprise! Then it was back to see my family doctor but the cause of the temporary aphasia became a secondary concern. The burning question was to determine if the “golf ball” lymph node growing in my neck was malignant or not. In addition to all this turmoil, during this time my mother became ill with a malignant abdominal tumor. She was hospitalized and a short time later regrettably passed away.
Following this initial episode, it was a seemingly long and tedious process to get an appointment to see an eye nose and throat (ENT) specialist to investigate this suspected lymphoma. Finally, after a “quick and dirty” biopsy in the doctor’s office, the results came back two weeks later as inconclusive. Great! Just my luck. The quick and dirty approach did not cut it. So it was back again the in the queue for a full body CT scan and “day surgery” to collect a proper sample for a biopsy.
Guess what? The medical team decided to hospitalize me immediately following the biopsy, to carry out more scans, tests and prepare me for a proper course of chemotherapy. All this while the pathologists were figuring out the type of chemotherapy for “golf ball’. The enlarged lymph node turned out to be a Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL), more specifically, Stage IV (Diffuse large B Cell Lymphoma). The course of treatment was established as the CHOP protocol over 6 to 8 cycles lasting 21 days each. I should have suspected something was wrong a few months earlier, because I lost a significant amount weight over that time for no apparent reason.
To complicate matters further, I developed an accumulation of fluid in the pleural cavity of my left lung. This almost completely collapsed my left lung. Not surprising since close to 9 liters of fluid were drained from the pleural cavity. I am now breathing easier!
I am taking the chemotherapy well, without being burdened by too many side effects. After 6 cycles of CHOP, my oncologist considers that I am responding well to the treatments. But there is still a way to go yet before reaching the end. The fluid in the pleural cavity has not returned either in any substantial quantity. So far so good! Hang tough!