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My Life With Cancer

I have been in healthcare for 33 years and my knowledge is wealth.

Pictures of Follicular Lymphoma

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What is Follicular Lymphoma

A type of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (cancer of the immune system) that is usually indolent (slow-growing). The tumor cells grow as groups to form nodules. There are several subtypes of follicular lymphoma. There is no cure presently, but it can be treated with chemo. There are 85 types of Lymphoma, but Follicular Lymphoma is the hardest to diagnose because there are no symptoms in the beginning.

Follicular Lymphona

My Cancer Journey

In 2018 I went to the emergency room because I was having horrible stomach pain. The doctor told me that I should follow up with my gastroenterologist. I had swollen lymph nodes in my abdomen. I actually had an appointment with him the following Monday. He said it could be many things and he repeated the cat scan in three months and the lymph nodes were smaller, so he wasn't concerned, and neither was I. He was the first to drop the ball on me.

Fast forward to August of 2021 I developed a cough that would not go away no matter how they treated me. In September 2021 I came down with Pneumonia and ended up in the ER short of breath. They did a cat scan and my lungs looked like crushed glass so they could not rule out Covid or Pneumonia.

My primary repeated the cat scan in three weeks and my lungs were clear but there was an enlarged lymph node in my para-aorta space. I had a office appointment with my primary and explained to her what happened in 2018. She repeated the abdominal cat scan which showed all my lymph nodes were enlarged in my abdomen, under my left clavicle and spine. She immediately referred me to MD Anderson cancer center.

I really didn't understand then why I was going to the cancer center, but I was about to learn a hard to swallow diagnosis. I saw the oncologist and he said he wanted to get a fine needle biopsy of the lymph nodes. This happened in December of 2021. While I was waiting for results, I came down with Covid and had to see the oncologist via internet. He told me I had lymphoma, so he was referring me to a lymphoma specialist.

I met with him also via internet because I still had Covid. He wanted me to get all my testing done then meet with him the beginning of March, so he had a clearer picture.

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In this time, I had a bone marrow biopsy, a pet scan, a biopsy of the lymph nodes in my neck and blood work.

When I finally met with him in person, he explained to me that we would have a very long relationship but there was no cure for the type of lymphoma I had. He said we have two choices here. You can either watch and wait or go through chemo. At this point I was already symptomatic with the cough, bruising, legs swelling and night sweats. I told him chemo will not get easier for me as I get older so let's just start chemo. He agreed. In two weeks, I had a port placed and my first chemo was scheduled. When it finally sunk in, I was a mess. I had so many emotions of sadness, anxiety, was I dying, etc. The emotions were endless. You just don't know how many emotions you can have with one diagnosis.

I started my chemo the end of March which was going to be six months of treatment. After my third treatment I had a repeat pet scan that showed no more swollen lymph nodes. The thoughts in my mind were that it will come back eventually but who knows when. Chemo is harsh. The nausea and no energy were the worst. I never lost my hair it only thinned out. Each treatment that I had; the side effects got worse. I hated every minute of the week after chemo.

I finished all my chemo now I sit and wait for a pet scan in October. Chemo was rough on me, but I still went to work like nothing was wrong. My husband, sister, best friend and coworkers were my cheer leaders. I would not have gotten through without them. I still have more treatment coming up every other month for a year and a half, but nothing can be worse than what I already went through.



Signs of Follicular Pneumonia

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Cancer Does Not Single Out Anyone

Although this article is relatively shorter them most of my articles, cancer does not decide any one group of people to grow on. It doesn't care if you are rich or poor or your ethnicity. I have no family history of Lymphoma so that just shows you it can invade anyone.

Be proactive with your healthcare. If I had not insisted for my primary to get an abdominal cat scan, I would still be walking around full of cancer and never would have known it.

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