Baldies' Blog began originally in the UK by a 26 year old journalist with a blood cancer on a mission to inform the world about bone marrow donation.

He has since died, and I took on the cause of making cancer care more transparent for everybody.

Cancer is a disease that will touch everybody through diagnosis or affiliation: 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed and 1 in 3 woman will hear those words, "You Have Cancer."

I invite you to read how I feel along my journey and
how I am continuing to live a full life alongside my Hodgkin's lymphoma, with me controlling my cancer, not my cancer controlling me.

I hope that "Baldies' Blog" will prepare you to handle whatever life sends you, but especially if it's the message, "You Have Cancer."

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Grey’s Anatomy has Nothing On Me Part Deux

I said it once, I’m going to say it again, Grey’s Anatomy has nothing on me
Izzy is currently getting diagnosed with cancer.
I’m enthralled. I’m in awe.
It’s like watching myself on a tv show.
I can say, and if you missed the show you probably will not get this, that I wouldn’t have entrusted my test results to the dumbest resident of the bunch.
My blood and results are vitally (HA, just me being punny again) important.
I try to remove as much of the margin for error as possible, and that includes who I trust with IMPORTANT tests.
The whole shocked, blank face she made, ME.
The angry disposition over a work related situation, that was ME!
Then wandering, teary eyed into a private place to deal with my shock with some solace, poking through the nodes in the lymphatic system that are most likely effected, that was me too.
Yes, the way they portrayed the reaction of a practitioner that diagnosis a terrible disease in themselves, absolutely accurate.
If Izzy was me, she is going to run to her scan results and then have a break down.
Her colleagues are going to tell her it could be something else, like sarcoidosis, and she’s going to think, “I’m fucked because sarcoidosis is the good option.”
She’ll be well cared for internally. Everyone will look out for her.
However, Izzy lives in TV Land. She found out she has cancer five minutes ago, and she’s all ready in the clinic being called to an appointment.
And you know what, I’m in love with this episode, since her doctor said the SAME THING I heard so many times “It’s just a worry, you know how it goes with patients, we see people through this all the time. It will be in the past tomorrow” or in my personal experience, their words were “paranoid,” “hypochondriac,” and “second year syndrome.”
Second year Syndrome is something that second year medical students often experience when they start to wonder, and become very nervous, that they have EVERYTHING, since symptoms for illness like lymphoma are insidious. It’s a syndrome of knowledge. You have enough knowledge to know the problem, the symptoms, the diagnosis, and treatment modalities, but not knowledgeable, or not distanced enough in perspective, to know you don’t have it.
In reality, the process from suspicious to biopsy takes a while. There would need to be a biopsy. I needed to make an appointment for a consult. There Izzy would discuss with the surgeon biopsy options, such as needle aspiration vs. an actual incision with the entire node (or mass) removed.
Then surgery needs to be scheduled, and after that, the tissue needs to be sent to pathology to be analyzed. Once it is analyzed and she is “officially” diagnosed, she will be referred to a Doctor specializing in hematology.
I say “referred” since this is very different from actually getting an appointment and seeing the doctor.
I was very blessed and the whole process I just described only took a couple weeks.
Then, upon meeting your hematologist (feel free to reference the first “Grey’s Anatomy Has Nothing on Me” from September to meet Dr. Gautier), you discuss staging and possible therapies.
Staging took four weeks. It can be done more quickly, but Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer that can be left, safely for four weeks to take time with staging.
Also, I was in no rush to head to chemotherapy. I was scared to death of chemo.
I’ve been a LIFE LONG CANCER PHOBE, specifically of blood cancers (leukemia) and bone marrow transplants. The form of treatment I’ve accepted I’ve been scared of since childhood in the same manner I’ve been scared of serial killers or getting snatched from somewhere and sold as a sex slave to Africa (no need to question the last fear, I’ve heard it happens).
What Izzy is doing is what I also did, poorly faking normalcy, and nobody is noticing the change, just like I did, for 5 whole days.
That’s as long as I could hold out during the diagnosis PROCESS. Actually, that is as long as it took to get a CT and have it read by a radiologist.
I want you to know that diagnosis is a process, and it is just as scary from the very first time you see your primary care provider about your suspicions (for me it was visible masses in my neck and an inability to lay flat due to pressure causing difficulty swallowing and breathing) as it is when you finally get confirmation and then meet your new doctor.
The fear does not lessen at any of these points. It continues and changes in character, but it doesn’t leave.
It’s important for friends, family, and anyone who wants to be supportive to know this. Do not get in petty fights with your friend at this time. Do not undermine their fears. Do not make any demands of them, the stress will break them.
In life, you really never know what someone is going through. I’ve found it’s wise to treat everybody like their on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
I’m happy primetime, big time tv is addressing this issue, and I need to thank Addison (a character) for leaving saying, “No need to thank me, just kick ass.”
I am going to kick ass.


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Anonymous said...

Another Grey's Anatomy watcher here. I haven't watched this episode yet but am very curiuos after reading your blog post. I'm a lymphoma survivor as well...