The Beginning


To start off let me share how it lead up to my Hodgkins Lymphoma diagnosis on June 15, 2015. Sorry if this entry is a little long.. A lot has happened leading up to the present day. About six weeks ago I woke up with pain in my lower part of my throat, near the right clavicle more so, but central in the throat. I then notices a few swollen lymph nodes which I've been prone to get since a kid so I just thought I had come down with an infection/cold. As the pain got a little worse and it didn't feel like a normal sore throat or infection, I got worried. I made an appointment with my General Practitioner and we thought it could possibly be my thyroid so he ran my first round of blood work. This was on a Monday or Tuesday and he called me that Friday evening with the blood test results. He just simply explained my thyroid levels were all in the normal range, but my ESR Rate was very high (commonly called Sed Rate) which is a test that indirectly measures how much inflammation is in the body, but doesn't specify where in the body the inflammation is coming from. My sed rate was 74 and normal for woman is 0-29 mm/hr. My doctor thought I could just have a little inflammation in my thyroid and just recommended I took Tylenol (being pregnant you can't take much for pain) but this didn't sit right with me. My thyroid checked out fine. My intuition told me it was something more and I'm ever so thankful I listened to my intuition. I called the doctor back on Monday to tell him the swelling of the lymph nodes was no better and I was still having some discomfort. They got me in to see him a day later. He then suggested we test the sed rate again and blood cell counts. If the sed rate came back higher he wanted me to see a specialist, an ENT- Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor. Thursday morning while in between clients at work I got a phone call around 10am. It was the nurse from my GP's office. She explained to me that the sed rate came back a little higher at 85 so they wanted me to see the specialist right away. They asked me if I could possibly head over to the ENT's office for 11am, of course I said I could. I've never gotten a phone call like that and that was just the beginning. I made it over to the office and met the ENT Specialist who I must say is such a sweet guy. So kind and understanding. He felt the nodes and asked the general questions and he seemed concerned about the nodes. He wanted me to go for a neck ultra sound right away just to make sure they were entirely lymph nodes and not masses, Radiology got me in within a few hours. I waited a few days and got the call from my specialist that indeed they were lymph nodes and the largest was measured at 3cm. He wanted me to try a round of antibiotics first to see if my body would fight off the infection before assuming it was something worse like lymphoma he mentioned, and if that didn't work he said our next step would be a needle biopsy. I agreed. I took the antibiotic for almost 10 days, no change. Swelling still the same, nodes still large. I called the office first thing on a Monday morning and explained to the medical assistant that I wanted to move forward, that I had been taking these antibiotics 3X daily for 10 days with no change. The doctor called me back within several minutes and agreed that we should move forward. I got the call to schedule the needle biopsy later that day from the hospital Outpatient Unit, but would have to wait a full week to get in to have the procedure done. Time moves SO slow when your waiting for something like this. Your mind wonders and you have to fight off all the negative thoughts that pop in and out. I cried, I worried, I even thought the worse, but I picked myself up each time and new it would be ok. I just had to hurry up and wait now. Then the day came, like it always does. My wonderful husband took me and we sat in the waiting room until they called me back. Since it was a sterile operating room it would be done in he was unable to go back with me. As I followed the one of the surgical technicians back to the OR he started to briefly explain what they would be doing, though I had done my research and asking before this lol. I'm not one to not know what will be done or how it will be done. BUT a word of the BEST advice, stay off of sights that are not credible! You will have diagnosed yourself with a list of diseases before even knowing.. Not worth the worry when you already have so much going on. Anyway, I really haven't been in a OR for any type of procedure so it was a little overwhelming walking into the room. It was huge! It reminded me of the show House, like a OR room I had seen from the show. So I laid down on a bed, they prepped me, covering my hair, scrubbing my neck and covering it with a blue surgical cover with a opening in the area that would be biopsied. I had a wonderful group of people around me, there was four people in the room around me, doctor, surgical tech., nurse, and another technician who stood in front of me during the procedure to comfort me and assist the doctor with the ultra sound/biopsy. A quick run down on what they actually did, they numb the area with a local anesthetic then go in with a fine needle while they use a ultra sound to show the lymph nodes on the screen (which I got to watch the screen the entire because it was right in front of me by the tech) that fine need has a little trigger on the top were the doctor presses and it clips off little pieces of tissue from the enlarged node. The noise that makes when he clips the node sounds a lot scarier then it really is, but it is indeed kind of gross to hear. I didn't feel much though besides pressure, the numbing was the only part I felt and that was just a quick burning feeling. Not bad though. After the procedure I had a little bruising, but wasn't in too much pain. Then the wait began again for 11 whole days!! My mind was going stir crazy! On Saturday June 9th I woke up around 12am in extreme amount of pain in my right neck area/clavicle area where the swollen nodes were located. I couldn't sleep because it was so achy so I stayed up till about 5am and then woke my husband up around 6:30am to see what he thought and we decided to make a ER trip to be safe. ER was quick, they couldn't do much because I'm pregnant and they said the biopsy results still weren't back yet (the ER was in the same hospital as the biopsy was done so they can see all of those records). Only thing they did was give me Tylenol with Codeine which is ENTIRELY safe for me to take while pregnant. As long as it's not taken closer to delivery. We left the ER in a hour or so and we were back to waiting. Monday June 15, 2015 came. The strangest thing, my husband is never one to miss work, but he had gotten a sunburn from being out in our pool the day before so he decided to take the day off. Plus we had an ultra sound for the baby for our 18 week appointment that day at 3pm so he figured he would just stay home with me. We ate breakfast and we were cleaning up when the phone rang, it was a little after 9am. It was the ENT Doctor/My Specialist. He started out by asking me how I was feeling because he was told I ended up in the ER on Saturday. I told him I was just I pain, but it wasn't as bad now... He then paused.... My heart sank as I heard his next words. Well your biopsy results came back and you have a tumor.... Again I couldn't really register this. He then went on to explain that it was Hodgkins Lymphoma which is a cancer of the lymph nodes. All that I could ask was am I going to die? Then I started to cry and the poor doctor I know it hurt him to have to tell me this news.. He reassured me I would be fine, that this is treatable and I can get through it. I agreed. He then told me he was going to have the oncologist call me right after he hung up with me and get me in to see him that day. No joke they called 10mins later. They wanted me to come in by 10am.. It was 9:30am but we got it together and made it there by 10am. The oncologist was so reassuring and wonderful. He specializes in this form of cancer and knows the best of the best doctors. One doctor being from Boston who specializes also in the cancer, but also with pregnant woman who have it. After meeting with the oncologist he immediately wanted to get the testing going to stage the cancer. I went for blood tests and a chest x-ray on June 15th. Then my MRI and Bone Marrow Biopsy would be scheduled for June 17th. Later that day on June 15th was our ultra sound appointment for our son. What a day, but we at least got to end it well by seeing him and knowing all was perfectly fine with our sweet little prince. They confirmed it was a boy of course, since we found out through genetic testing (blood work) that he was a boy back around 12 weeks pregnant. Though we got some bad news this day, we also got great news that our baby is healthy and growing the way he should be. We are still so blessed despite everything else.