Diagnosis 4/10/2019 – Post 1

I’m 48 years old, and I have cancer – non-Hodgkins, Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL).

It’s aggressive, but localized. It hurts. (I thought that cancer wasn’t supposed to hurt?) We’re going for a cure. Four rounds of R-CHOP chemo, followed by two rounds of rituximab on its own – each given three weeks apart over the course of one day, outpatient at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC).

I’m familiar with MSKCC. Gina has had nearly all her surgeries and chemo done there. For those of you who know my wife, she’s healthy. No new recurrences. All is well. She kicked triple-negative breast cancer’s butt twice.

I plan to do the same with my cancer.

I quit drinking from Thanksgiving until just recently. People asked me in December how it felt to be sober. Most were surprised when I said, “I feel like shit”. I was surprised. I thought that if you drank regularly and then quit you’d begin to have more energy and feel more alive after a few months.

In February Gina noticed a lump on my back. Since I’d had a sebaceous cyst (similar to a lipoma) removed from my back more than fifteen years ago, I figured it was the same or a similar thing.

So did the dermatologist. And so did the plastic surgeon.

When the surgeon went in to remove it under local, she was surprised to find the mass growing in my latissimus muscle all the way through to my rib. For those of you that aren’t surgeons, a local works great for cutting through skin and fascia without pain. Once you have to try and numb up a large muscle group for cutting, a local is no longer effective. The blood in the muscle washes away the anesthesia too quickly to allow any serious cutting.

But the surgeon needed to get a dungeons-and-dragons dice-sized chunk of this mass out for pathology. So in she went, and out I screamed.

That was on Tuesday before Will and I flew to USA Hockey Nationals. His team came in third in the country at Notre Dame. (The videos of the games can all be found here on my YouTube channel.)

When Will and I got back from Indiana a week later, the pathology was still incomplete. Then on over-the-hump day, the first day of the 2019-2020 hockey tryouts, I got the call. The surgeon said that the pathologist called her right away even though the report won’t be done for about another week. There was a slide full of large B-cell lymphoma. It was unmistakable.

Unfortunately, Gina overheard the call and Will came home to his mother crying. Then he and I went to the rink.

Tomorrow’s blog Post 2 will pick up the story from here.

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