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.