What type of cancer did you have?
Hodgkin’s Disease (Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) – It is a cancer of the immune system. I was Stage 3b, which means that the cancer was on the right & left sides of my body and below and above the diagram, but had not yet made it to my bone marrow.
How long was your treatment?
6 months of chemo. I was fortunate to respond well to chemo and did not require radiation. My doctor did hit me with the maximum allowable doses of chemo. After chemo I had quarterly PET scans for the first 2 years, then every 6 months for the next 3. Now I just need an annual PETscan because I am more susceptible to other cancers and I will be immuno-supressed for the rest of my life.
How did you tell your family?
I had been sick for some time off and on (approx 8 years). The diagnosis came after a bout of jaundice that started when we returned from Ireland. My husband went to every appointment with me and it was getting ridiculous so I told him to go to work and I’d go to my appointment by myself. Of course this was the appt where I was finally diagnosed, so he found out by phone. From there the phone tree started. I’m a very blunt person, so there was no sugarcoating.
What qualities did you look for in your treatment doctor?
I had worked as an Administrative Manager on the Oncology floor of one of the largest hospitals in the area and at my Hematologists office years before, so I knew I wanted either Dr. Kalter or Dr. Guzley. When my family doc sent me to Guzley, it was no problem.
How did you know where to go/what to do?
I didn’t. They told me and I researched a lot. I was beginning to think I was a hypochondriac and had actually scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist before the jaundice. The odd thing was, jaundice was not a symptom of my cancer, but when all the Hepatitis tests came back normal, they sent me for a CT Scan. By the time I got home from the CT they were already on the phone calling me back. They just happened to pick up part of a 7cm tumor in my chest on the scan.
Can they tell you how you got it, or what caused it?
The cause is unknown, but in my case they feel it is related to the time I lived in Woburn, Mass (The movie “A Civil Action” with John Travolta).
If you read my blog, you can do a keyword search of cancer or click on the cancer tag in the left side margins. Most of the Hodgkin’s entries are from 2005 and earlier.
Hope that answers all your questions Jen. Let me know if you have more