I think it was early November, in 1977, by the time the specialist I had been referred to, to take out the lump, brought me into his office. As calmly as possible he explained that I had this disease that I was going to need special treatment for, I had something called ‘Cancer”. He explained it to me in such a way that I left his office thinking that I had a rare kind of flu. This prospective of what cancer was, turned out to be a beneficial perception in my healing process.
In technical terms, I was diagnosed as having ‘lymphosarcoma’, Terminal then and from what I’ve read, still next to terminal now. Lymphomas being in the blood and the lymph glands, as in leukemias and Sarcomas being of the rarest and most aggressive cancers of the connective tissue and bones. So why am I here? I had cancer roaming around in my lymph system, creating lumps and playing havoc with my immune function. Bone biopsies showed the cancer was prevalent there as well as in the spinal fluid as revealed by numerous spinal taps, perhaps even affecting my brain.
I remind my family about how the intrathecal drug regiment has affected my brain whenever Quasimoto wakes up instead of me “Must have been the chemo I had 20+ years ago”. Although in fact, I know there are very few, if any, cells still in my system that were there twenty years ago, (the body being the remarkably regenerating machine that it is). It still is a plausible excuse and one I use in my house, and even get away with some days.
Hindsight being what it is, today I can talk in depth about cancer and treatments, yet at the time, I had no clue what cancer was or what it entailed, I only knew that finally I would be able to do something about my most immediate problem; headaches. I walked away from the doctors office with a light step, finally we were going to get somewhere, and of course I had been right all along, it wasn’t just in my head, (it was only in practically every cell in my body!)
With this righteous thought I walked up to my parents house and told my mother straight out that they had finally found out what all this headache stuff was about. Well you might imagine her reaction. She had a very different perception of what Cancer was than what I had. She phoned my father to come home from work right away, with tears in her voice she said she would explain when he got there. I caught on that something was wrong and yet I couldn’t quite understand what it was, for heavens sake she should be happy for me. These headaches were driving me crazy!
Fortunately, as time went on, I never really did catch on to the theme that I could die from cancer. My father came home and was informed that I had cancer. Mom broke out crying, Dad went pasty white, and I swear he didn’t have a grey hair on his head, before that day. Myself, I figured everyone was getting just a bit overly emotional. It surprised me that they were reacting so strongly. Once my father recovered, somewhat, he phoned up our family physician and we all went directly to his office for the facts.
I don’t think I have ever seen a doctor cry before, or since, he had been a good friend of the family for years. He explained about lymphosarcoma, the advancement in treatment of cancer, and hope. “With the big ‘C’ as well as a poor prognosis, my parents had me in my grave. Dead, buried next to my grandparent, all that was left was buy the coffin and wait for the exact date. It was a devastating blow to everyone, except me. Finally something tangible to work on, no more being told it was all in my head.
For our next course of action, I was sent for a number of tests, the bone marrow biopsy wasn’t much fun, yet next to the lymphangiogram, it was a party. The bone marrow examination was done with in a short period of time, (I was forever in a rush), the lymphangiogram, however, took forever.
First they had to freeze my feet, (like they weren’t cold enough), than they made two tiny little slices on the topsides in order to find the exact veins to inject this blue radioactive dye into. The poor fellow doing the test had to cut twice in my……(I just had to take off my sock to remember which foot, such an indelible experience, or so I thought at the time), right foot, as he cut in the wrong spot the first time. This was the easy part.
Next I had to lay completely still for what seemed like hours as this dye was injecting in for the purpose of showing my lymph system up on a machine. Do you know how itchy your toes get (yes the ones that were frozen numb), when you are told not to move them? I guess this was my opportunity to learn patience with treatment, (I used to speed up the chemo injections), so I guess I passed by this opportunity, completely.
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