Nashville or Bust

The trip that started a longer journey

Back Story

Some of you have heard the back story, others have not. So in order to get everyone on the same page of how one possibly has Lymphoma without any symptoms of Lymphoma, here goes.

The family went on long weekend lake get-away in early July. While there we took advantage of our hosts’ kayaks and played in the water as much as we could. Once we got home, Dave started to feel a slight nagging pain in his lower back — right where the kayak seat had rested. Thinking it was strain from our adventures, he did what most guys do. He popped some Advil, rubbed on some Icy Hot and carried on. When the pain didn’t let up, he went to our family GP group (on a Saturday) and walked out with a Rx for muscle relaxants and a some instructions on therapeutic back stretches. It seemed to be in line with the situation. So he popped the meds, scrawled shoot notes on the paper and carried on again.

The pain continued to come and go, “traveling” around his back. By late August it was becoming intense. He was also getting the hiccups a lot. So on September 20, he went back to the GP group, got the keen Monday doctor* who decided an x-ray was in order. The next day he got a call and was told his spine looked great — nothing funky there — but there was a shadow on the film. Our good doctor ordered a CT scan for the following day just to get a better view. We complied. Then Thursday, September 23 came. And the call. We were mentally prepared for some sort of back surgery as the pain was ever-present and intense. ‘Lymphoma’ was not a word that computed right away. The next day we went in for a second CT scan of lower regions just to make sure the rest of the abdomen and pelvic regions were clear. Happy to report, they were.

The following Thursday, September 30, we met with our oncologist for the first time. We learned that the mass was sizable — 17 x 14.2 cm (think a 5″ x 7″ picture) located in the mediastinum behind the heart. It seemed to be pressing against the spinal column thus all of the pain. While all indicators pointed to a type of Lymphoma, obviously diagnostics would tell the true tale. We learned a lot during that hour and felt a good connection with this man who was about to guide us on this journey. Dave became an official patient of the oncology unit and a flurry of blood draws and follow-up test appointments took place. Ironically, Dave’s blood counts were all in the normal range. Had he not had the back pain, he would have never known exactly what was lurking.

Today was the first of the two big diagnostics. Dave had a CT guided needle biopsy through the back. The entire team was incredible and while they couldn’t tell us exactly what they got out of him, they did tell us they were able to get a really, really good sample. That’s a relief because the only other way to get a piece of this would have been surgery. Based on the anatomy lesson above, that would have been major. Dave got some great pain relief (thank you Morphine Fairy) and was able to nap quite a bit during recovery. It was a full day stint at the hospital but a beneficial one. Everyone is still leaning towards Lymphoma based on size, position, etc. and while that is a scary proposition, we have a little bit of comfort tonight. We’re one step closer to knowing.

Tomorrow, Dave will have a PET scan. This will show exactly where all — if any — mutant cells are hiding. And then, on Thursday (see the pattern here?) we go back to the oncologist for the big answers. What flavor? How many scoops? When do treatments begin? And who knows, we may discover that this is benign. Wouldn’t that be cool?

So back story … yes, this tale has one, perhaps two if you include the word play. It also has a lot of subplots including those of people we are meeting along the way. Like another man named Dave and his wife Michelle. They were at the hospital the same time we were for Dave’s first round of chemo. He thought he had a sore throat. Turned out to be something very different. I’ve got them on my prayer list tonight. As well as all of you.

*And that keen Monday doctor? She was the same one who detected my little sister’s Thyroid cancer a few years back. And most likely, helped to save her life. Thanks, Nancy!

October 4, 2010 - Posted by | Dave

1 Comment »

  1. […] work when I got a call from Dave. Most of you know the drill from there. (And if you are new here, this post may […]

    Pingback by Year One: Complete « Nashville or Bust | September 23, 2011 | Reply

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