My Hodgkin's Lymphoma

My Cancer Journey

The End of the Year

So it’s the end of the year and time for new beginnings. I’m not going to lie, 2013 has not been my year. I never thought I would be in the group of people who had to utter the words, “I have cancer.”

It. Sucked.

Going to chemotherapy every other Friday for 24 weeks has sucked.

Missing out on time with my kids and making the dinners I love to make, has sucked.

But you know what. I am a damn lucky person. I could have been diagnosed with a much more aggressive form of cancer.

It could be worse: I could be alone. Instead, I have a husband who has been to every appointment, in every waiting room and nearby for every infusion.

It could be worse: I could be alone. Instead, I have family who has been there to watch my kids, clean my house, and help with errands.

It could be worse: I could be alone. Instead, I’m surrounded by friends who make me laugh. I’m surrounded by friends who don’t linger over the fact that I have cancer. We talk about issues, we rile up the library board. We go for coffee. We chat, we laugh and we have fun. We are friends, before the cancer.

So while 2013 dealt me a pretty crappy blow, and some of the crap will spill over into 2014, I know that I can look forward to 2014 with a smile, and an “I kicked caner’s ass” attitude!



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Treatment Number Two

So, honestly, I can’t remember if I even finished writing about my first treatment, and I guess it doesn’t matter. J My blog, my rules.

On the 22nd we headed back over to HOA for the treatment. It was a crazy day! We left in plenty of time, dropped my kids off with my dad and headed out. As we were driving through Grants Pass there was a huge lightning storm where we could actually see the bolts of lightning and they were super close! All of the stop lights through town were flashing red since the storm caused a power surge. So, it took forever to get through town. We stopped at Fred Meyer to grab some sandwiches so that we wouldn’t be starving during the session. Anyways, we get back on the road, and because of the major delay, we wound up being 10 minutes late to HOA. They didn’t care in the slightest. I guess when you have cancer you can show up late to an appointment.

I go over to the lab and get my blood drawn and then am taken back to the room to wait for Stacy. Dr. Rizvi, my oncologist is out of town and will be for one more treatment. All of my numbers look pretty good except for my Neurophils. Normal is 2.0-8.0 and mine are .63. There is a booster type of shot that they can give you to bump that up, but it is hard on the lungs and one of the drugs I take is already hard on the lungs (Bleomycin) so she wants to avoid that until absolutely necessary.

My treatment was scheduled to start at noon and they called me back at 12:07, so even though I was 10 minutes late, it didn’t matter, I was checked in with them before then, they were running late! HA! 😉

Again, they accessed the port, which doesn’t get less weird, in case you were wondering, gave me some Tylenol, then started pushing the anti-nausea meds followed by the steroid.

Then came the drugs. Two of my chemo drugs are pushed by the nurse. The Adriamycin and the Vindcristine are sort of slow going and awkward since the nurse is right there. Matt and I played some Rummy (I totally won!) and decided that we would keep a running game going to see who wins after chemo is over. As long as I win I’ll have fun.

We ate lunch in the room, but stupid Fred Meyer put mayonnaise on the sandwich (NASTY) so I didn’t eat that. I was really glad that we ordered a quinoa salad since I wouldn’t have had anything to eat otherwise.

Oh, and the Adriamycin makes pee bright orange, which is always a shock!

Anyways, it was rather uneventful. We got there like I said at 11 and we were done and headed out of the parking lot at 3:20. I’ll take it!

I haven’t had any bad reactions this time. I have been sleepy, but I’ve only taken one anti-nausea pill, and that was even just me being overly cautious! J

We had a great birthday party for me on Sunday since I’ve now ventured into the land of the 31’s instead of just 30. Lots of friends came over, a barbecue, some wine, a bounce hosue for the kids. I was feeling the love, that’s for sure! And, my friends know me and I have large quantities of red wine to consume! J


Thanks for checking in! ❤

Test Results and Night Before Chemo

So on August 7th, Matt and I ran back over to Medford to get the results of all the previous testing, and as much as my husband was not going to enjoy it, I knew my mind powers would make my first chemo treatment start!

We got to HOA right on time. I had a 10am appointment and that time is pretty perfect for dropping kids off at daycare/school and getting on the road. We get called back in the room at about 10:15 and Stacy, the PA told me that I have a healthy heart and healthy lungs (not exactly the news flash of the year.) and did I feel like starting Chemo? I pretty much burst into the “I told you So Dance” from Will & Grace. Matt was not amused.

We talked with Stacy a bit more about how many cycles I’d have to go. Since the PET scan showed that I have cancerous lymph nodes both above and below my abdomen I was bumped to a stage three and will be doing 6 cycles of chemo. That was a giant awww, fuck, moment. I mean, in my head I had sort of assumed that I would have to do like 4 treatments all together and this crap would be gone. But to know I have to do this every other week for 6 months, barf. Stacy suggested that we move the treatments to Friday’s in Grants Pass, a town that is about a half hour drive closer and on Friday’s, but I was sort of set on Thursday’s for my own scheduling reasons. Stacy sent us to the lab to have my blood work done so they could have a base line.

We went into the lab waiting area and it was packed and we’re waiting. And we wait, and then we wait some more. We aren’t really freaking out because the room has tons of people and they are all being called back. As the room starts to thin out I start to wonder if maybe I should be asking where I should be. So after an hour and a half I’m the only person in the room. I peak around the corner and talk to the receptionist and the lab technician was mortified! Apparently waiting more than 20 minutes is unheard of and something was wrong! They lost my order! She was so apologetic! But, this was the same nurse/lab tech who did the bone marrow biopsy, and without telling her my name, she was able to call up my orders and knew my name and remembered that we wanted to know where to eat last time we were there. Lesson learned, don’t be so patient. And again, I was blown away by how well this clinic remembers people. I just started my treatment and I feel like they know me. After that was all finally taken care of, it was time to spend some money!

I mean, if I’m going to have to be in Medford, I might as well knock out some of the kids’ back to school shopping. Then we picked up my prescriptions. I felt like such a druggy! 5 prescriptions! But, by having them filled at Fred Meyer’s I got 250 fuel points! The lady was super nice, the prescriptions were ready and I passed the test by the pharmacist on knowing what all the drugs were and why I needed to take them. I love getting A’s and am totally a Gold Star type of person, so I gave myself a gold star that day. Haha

We stayed at the Quality Inn, which is eh, but not as nice as some of my other favorite places in Medford. But, a room is a room. We went to dinner with my sister and her husband and their cute baby (who by the way loves me the best) and had a really nice time.

When we got back to the room and went to bed I didn’t realize I was nervous until I couldn’t sleep. Matt was knocked out and here I am, wide awake. About the only good thing that came out of that was I could watch a show I saw the preview for called Deal With It. OMG! I was so surprised I didn’t wake Matt up laughing. It is totally worth a half hour of your time, especially if you’re feeling nervous and can’t sleep.

The next morning we had breakfast (I had French Toast) and then headed over to HOA for my first treatment. I was supposed to be there at 11:30 and by the time they called me back it was noon. Then they didn’t start my treatment until 12:30!

And I Get a Port

On July 31st, I went to Rogue Valley Medical Center and had my port placed. A port is a device that is planted under my skin, on my chest, just to the right of my heart so that the chemo can get into my blood stream as quickly as possible. The port itself is about a 3/4 ‘s of an inch diameter, and has a catheter that comes off of it and feeds up into my jugular and then through my vein just outside my heart. I have to say that having something connected to my heart is sort of creepy.

The port placement was really uneventful. We got there just before 12:30, got checked in and headed over to the short stay area. The hospital had a numerical tracking board. It was really nice for Matt to be able to look up and see my number and know that I was in surgery or headed back to recovery.

While we were waiting for my turn for surgery we sat around the room and just waited. That’s one thing with medical stuff I’m never going to get used to, waiting. Blah. The area we live in has been battling wildfires lately, and it was so smoky that day that twice while we were there the smoke alarms went off, and that’s just from people coming in and out of the hospital doors. Thankfully, the smoke has not been as thick, so all those poor people who work there don’t have to keep going through fire drills.

My surgery was supposed to start at 2, but they were running late and it was 3:15 before they took me back. Not normally a huge deal, except that they wouldn’t let me eat and I was starving! After the finally took me back it was super quick. 45 minutes and I was awake talking to the nurse. I was even well enough to talk about food. (I told you I was starving). We left the hospital right around 5 and headed straight over to Kaleidoscope Pizza because, well, I was ready to chew on my arm.

It took about a week for the port to heal up, and it wasn’t until the doctor’s office took off the bandage that I really started to feel better. Everyone was telling me I would get to the point where I don’t feel it anymore and I’m glad that I’m there. I mean, I know the port is there, but it’s not taking over my life.

Next up: I head back to HOA and start chemo.


So I’m going to jump ahead just a bit. I had my first treatment on Thursday and even though the education nurse told us all about the side effects, I guess I wasn’t expecting them to hit almost immediately. 

I wasn’t shocked by the nausea, I mean my body was pumped full of chemicals for 4 hours, but holy hell my tongue is on fire. It’s almost like a drank a cup of super hot tea and burned my taste buds. Thankfully, I ate a peanut butter sandwich and that seemed to really help. I’ll be remembering this trick. 

It also seems like the whole Paleo thing will be out the window as I feel lucky to eat. Thanks for listening to me whine!

Testing, Testing and Then Some More Testing!

Ugh, after our first appointment at Hematology Oncology Associates (HOA) it was time to start scheduling the needed appointments. The round of Chemo I am taking is apparently hard on the lungs and the heart so an Echo Cardiogram as well as a Pulmonary Function Test and a PET Scan were scheduled.

July 25th was a super busy day. It started at 8:30 am where Matt and I went into HOA for some Chemotherapy Education. This was basically 90 minutes of being told how much chemo is going to suck ass. I mean, I knew going in it was going to suck, but there is nothing quite like hearing you are going to be sick, constipated, tired, have diarrhea, mouth sores, more tired, more misery for 90 minutes. This was also the day I found out I had to break up with Advil. Ibuprofen is my drug of choice. It works, it works well. Tylenol is for babies, and that’s about all I get to use now. We ended that appointment by walking into the chemo room. Standing there and looking is a lot different than being a patient in there, but I’ll get to that later.

After the Chemo education class we killed a short amount of time and then went over to the nicest hospital ever. Seriously, it had valet parking. I almost felt like I was walking into a fancy pantsy hotel instead of a hospital. We signed in, showed the insurance and then I was off to the Echo. Talk about boring. Laying in a dark room while a tech who is about 12 puts the doppler all over my boobs while my husband sat in the room. Yeah. Weird. I’d say that took about 45 minutes, and I was never so glad to be done. He was having trouble getting a good picture of one part of my heart and pulled in reinforcements, great, MORE people looking at my boobs! Turns out he had a good picture and we were ready to go to the pulmonary function test.

The pulmonary function test was so weird. I have to say that, that the experience was fun and scary at the same time. The RN who ran the test was training an RN student and it was her last patient and last day (they get a three day crash course) and they were both so fun. I mean, you come in this room and they have you put your mouth over a giant snorkel and breath. I cheated once. You aren’t supposed to break contact with the giant snorkel but you’re expelling every ounce of breath you have, and well, it’s hard! OOOPS. 

The next part came was pretty funny. They put me in the little clear glass box, put the nose clamp on made me push my hands on my cheeks while breathing in and out very fast. I kept laughing. The guy would say, “This is serious” and I would laugh. Finally I had to tell him to stop saying serious because it was pushing me over the edge. I managed to get through the test at that point.

After the two tests were done I had to receive an Albuterol treatment for 8 minutes. The student gave me the breathing treatment stuff, and she put the pulse and 02 monitor on, just for policy and started the treatment. I’d say about 3 minutes in I have to cough. Then, I have to cough again. hmmmm. The guy who was overseeing the test got pretty serious, pretty quick and took the albuterol away and made me take some big deep breaths. Apparently Albuterol and I are not set up to be BFF’s forever. It made my 02 drop and my pulse jump way high. Yeah, sort of scary considering it’s supposed to help you breathe.

After that, we continued the rest of the test and it was pretty uneventful, but I felt pretty lightheaded and loopy for awhile after that. I even accidentally scratched Matt’s truck with m purse. Sorry, babe!

The next morning we headed to another office for the PET Scan. This time, Matt couldn’t come back with me. I went in the room and they got me all comfy in a chair. Then I had an IV Started so that they could easily and efficiently put the radioactive tracer into my blood stream! The guy came in the room with a lead box the he opened and pulled out a radioactive green syringe with a quarter inch of lead wrapped around that and said, “This is mostly for my protection rather than yours.” Yeah right, buddy. Then I sat in the room for 45 minutes all by myself while the tracer made it’s way through my body.

After the time limit was up I went and had the scan. it was 24 minutes of laying still and not moving. It sucks. I mean, it was uneventful, non exciting, and of course since I couldn’t move, I had tiny itches all over my body. 

The only nice thing about that was we were done with testing for the day and piddled around a little bit after eating a breakfast. We just didn’t hang out too much since I was radioactive and needed to avoid pregnant women and children for the next six hours. So I just didn’t feel right meandering around while I was possibly glowing! 

Next up I’ll tell you about the Port placement, but that was a week later, so I’ll do that in it’s own blog!

Going to Hematology Oncology Associates


Once my surgeon gave me the news that I have Classic Hodgkin’s Lymphoma I did not freak out. I did some basic googling just to get the general idea of WHAT I was dealing with.


I had the first appointment on July 17th. I’m not going to lie, these people at the office are the honest to god nicest people I have ever met. Everyone was sincere, funny, enjoyable to be around, and I didn’t get an ounce of the fake crap. I have a pretty good fake nice radar, and it was not even going off a little. Matt and I were shuffled back almost immediately, got weighted (EEEEK), and the PA was in almost immediately. She staged me, and at that time I was a stage 2, which in Hodgkin’s Lymphoma lands means that I have more than one lymph node that is infected, but it hasn’t spread to above and below my abdomen. Stacy (the PA) was super nice, told me about the treatment of drugs I was going to be receiving. A therapy called Adriamycin, Bleomycin, Vincrstine, Dacarbazine or ABVD for short. It’s apparently a super common treatment for Hodgkin’s. I was told that they needed to schedule me for a bunch more tests. An Echo to make sure my heart was strong enough. A pulmonary Function test to see if my lungs were strong enough and a PET Scan to get an idea if the cancer had spread.

Then she went ahead and sent me to a procedure room where I had my first ever bone marrow biopsy. That thing hurt like a mother effer. If I ever have another one, it’s one too many. Thankfully it’s done right above my ass so I couldn’t see what she was doing, but it wasn’t fun. And as they were extracting the marrow, I swear to you, my bones squeaked. NASTY. Although it wasn’t fun and hurt and sucked, the worst part was when they told me I couldn’t swim in the river for 2 weeks. I’m driving about 2 hours and 15 minutes to get to these appointments. The place I live doesn’t have a lot of stuff, but the river is beautiful and the highlight of my summer and it was being taken away from me. It was the first thing that cancer did to me that was a you can’t, not merely an inconvenience. And, for anyone who knows me, they know I HATE being told what to do. It hurts my soul! Haha Stacy told me that it’s pretty common for people to be emotional after a bone marrow biopsy, but still, I felt like a fool crying in the office over swimming. They promised me they have seen countless people crying, but I’m sure not over swimming.

Overall, my first appointment was informative, a little painful and good. I know that this group of doctor’s and all the staff are really going to do their best to treat me!

The Beginning

On April 17th I woke up with some killer hip pain in my left hip. Even though I had this pain, it wasn’t unusual. Ever since I had my daughter (at the time was still 6) I would have hip pain. No big deal. I go to the chiropractor, he pops me back in and bam, I’m good for a few months.

This, however was different. It hurt, bad. I laid in bed doing what I do when I hurt and poke the side that hurts, then I poke the other side, repeat until I find something different. What I wasn’t really expecting, however, was to find something different.

About 2.5 inches in from my left hip bone there was a solid mass. It was about an inch wide and 2 inches long and I could only find it while laying down. I didn’t initially freak out. I didn’t run to Dr. Google. I already had an appointment scheduled with my ob-gyn for my annual appointment and figured I would take it up with him in 2 weeks.

So, I’m waiting to inform the doctor of the mass when he gets to the any other concerns part after the internal and I don’t even have to bring it up, he can feel the lump. I’m thinking I have cysts on my ovaries or something similar.

The doctor sent me for an ultrasound a couple of days later and he confirmed that the lump was not in my ovaries or uterus, therefore not his area and sent me to the general surgeon.

I met with the general surgeon, who really was a nice guy, and he sent me for a CT Scan. The CT showed this lymph node that was under my stomach muscles and layers of fat, so he thought he would go for another enlarged lymph node that was about 2 inches lower, but the incision site wasn’t as invasive of a surgery.

A week later, I got the results that they didn’t get any results from that lymph node. Swell. Like I have time for ANOTHER procedure, MORE time off work. UGH!

So the Surgeon ordered a CT Guided biopsy. That was pretty painless, pretty fast, except for some confusion from the Radiologist on ordering a more comprehensive CT. Those results came back slightly abnormal with tracers of something called CD-30. Again, I didn’t rush to Dr. Google, because, that crap is scary.

Since there wasn’t enough of a sample, we had to go to the last resort, which was the invasive, knock you all the way out, use lasers to take the sample.

When those results came in, my surgeon said, “So, you have Classic Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.” Seriously? Cancer? I don’t have time for this fucking cancer.

There are nights that I don’t have time to make dinner for my kids and you want me to have time to go to Medford for appointments? To not be feeling well, to have to have people help me. This is going to suck.

So that’s how I got the official diagnosis. Things are going well, and I’ll post another blog on meeting the oncologists and getting staged.

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