Monday, December 29, 2008

John's Cancer Update

I'm telling you.... real life ain't nothing like hospital shows on TV. On TV, someone is diagnosed with cancer and right away they are whisked into surgery and on the mend before the hour is over. The time span seems to be days. Uh-uh. Not in real life. In real life, as in John's case, it's taken weeks to get through all the tests and doctor appointments to get moving on treatment.

Briefly (I promise), John was diagnosed in June 2007 with Large Diffuse B-cell Lymphoma (aka non-hodgins lymphoma). We found out when he was having pains in his side and he thought it was his appendix. I took him to the ER at my hospital because he was visiting me at the time.
By the time all the CT scans and PET scans and lymph node biopsies and bone marrow tests were done and treatment began, it was the beginning of October! Now granted, John refused to begin testing until after our vacation in July because he thought it might be his last vacation. But that was a 3 week delay. He had 7 chemo treatments over a 6 month period and he was declared in remission by April 2008! We also found out at that time that his cancer was at Stage 4 because he also had a spot on his liver and a tumor on his spine. And by April it was all gone!!

So 6 months go by, all his hair has grown back, his strength is back (he was fortunate to be able to work through his chemo!), and he gets his 6 month series of CT scans and PET scans. We go to his oncologist who is supposed to tell us that Hurray! You are still in remission! Nuh-uh. Dr. Swaab (who we absolutely LOVE! The man is amazing!) tells us they found 2 spots on his spleen and they want to do biopsies. It might not be cancer but the radiologist who read the scans is fairly sure it is cancer.

Now because John is retired Army, he has Tri-care Insurance (John calls it try-to-get-care insurance) and my hospital is "not a part of their network" so he has to go to Abington Hospital for any testing and/or surgery. Now Abington Hospital is fabulous but his doc is at Pottstown Hospital (which is affiliated with Fox Chase Cancer Center)! John had to fight to keep Dr. Swaab as his doctor. It's just a pain to have to get everything faxed and the docs have to keep calling each other with info, etc.

So now FINALLY John has an appointment to have his spleen removed on January 12, 2009. They were going to try to do a biopsy on the spots but it's kinda hard to do on the spleen because it's a mushy organ. The 2 doctors have agreed that removing the spleen in one piece is the best bet to be able to test it to see if there is cancer there. Also, removal is the course of treatment if it is, indeed, cancer. And they can't remove it laproscopically because the spleen will fall apart during removal. Nice, huh. What I don't know at this point is if he'll need chemo or radiation after the surgery. John will miss 2 to 4 weeks of work to recuperate.

So January and February should be very interesting for us.


Amy said...

I will keep John (and you) in my prayers.

Unknown said...

Awwww Joanie! Cancer does suck! Keep your spirits high and keep his even higher. Suggest a cruise for March or something. Maybe give him a future date to look forward to? You talked about marriage in the future. Maybe propose to him?

best of luck to you!


only a movie said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog... 2009 will start off very interesting for you, eh?
Wishing you the best and will stop back to visit (we have a few people in common on our blogrolls...)

Joanie said...

Thanks everyone for the kind words. John's in pretty good spirits. he was down for a few days after his doc visit but he got his fighting spirit back. John's a tough old bird!
I wish we had the money for a cruise, but it's just not there. And we have talked of getting married, but that's not gonna happen for some years. He has 4 ex-wives!!!!!

Queen Bee said...

I hope everything goes well for the two of you. Keep fighting.

Lilly said...

Aww Joanie I had no idea. My prayers will be with you both during this time. Yes, I agree with Jim and Garret, plan somethign to look forward to after all this is over. I love your new header photo by the way. Take Care.

Pseudo said...

I'm so sorry for you and John, I am a 2.5 year cancer survivor and know the toll it can take. Will keep him in my prayers.

♥ Braja said...

Oh, Joanie, I'm sorry to hear that... I am sure you two can give each other the strength you need to get thru it. eah, life ain't no tv show girl...

Boozy Tooth said...

You have gone to the tippy top of my prayer list and I will be fighting right alongside you and John for good test result and an overall healthy prognosis. I can only imagine what you two are going through, but if that header photo is any indication, you're doing it with grace and humor.

Have a very happy New Year and keep that positive energy flowing!