Road to a Stem Cell Transplant – Part 1

Not much has changed over the years.. serious, as always.


Road to a Stem Cell Transplant – The Summer of 2011

“Well, there is nothing really bad” was the original pathologist report that was done immediately after a biopsy of a swollen gland in my neck. That was certainly a relief. My neck had swollen up about 3 months earlier. Having been diagnosed with MS, five years before, I was used to weird things happening to me, physically, because MS makes your autoimmune system go crazy from time to time. Over the 3 months I went through a few rounds of antibiotics, a Ct Scan, and a PET Scan. While the swelling had decreased significantly, it was still there so the recommendation was to get a biopsy done, just to make sure.

The biopsy consisted of a surgeon sticking a needle in my neck and digging out tissue for testing. The procedure was easy enough. They gave me a local anesthetic so I was awake for the mining expedition into my neck. There was a pathologist in attendance who put some of the tissue under a microscope and looked for whatever pathologists look for and concluded, “Well, there is nothing really bad” . To say I was relieved, is an understatement. Unfortunately, this relief lasted about 5 minutes when the pathologist, or surgeon.. I forget, said, “ Of course we need to sent it out … you might have a lymphoma. Mmmmmm…Isn’t Lymphoma, Cancer, I thought to myself. Maybe I was wrong, because I was told there was nothing “real” bad, whatever that means. No big deal… I’ll take it one step at a time and be happy with the nothing real bad comment.

The day after the biopsy, my neck felt like someone had been digging around in it for a half hour the day before.. which they had. No worries. Felt the same the next day too. By the 3rd day I woke up and looked in the mirror and looked like Elephant Man. Mmmmmmm… this can’t be good, I remember thinking. My wife is a critical care nurse with lots of experience and by the look on her face, I guessed that I was on my way to the hospital. About 2 hours later I was in a nice single room in the local hospital with IV Antibiotics dripping through an IV. Over the next couple days I got a bunch of different tests, and the swelling pretty much went away so I was just about ready to roll, when a new doctor comes in and sits down. “The pathology report just came in and you have Non-Hodgkin T-Cell Lymphoma”. Mmmmmmm… that doesn’t sound good. The next few days were a bit of a blur.. Test after test. The rumor was they wanted to start chemo right away. The only thought in my mind was getting the …. out of there. Something just didn’t feel right. I finally made it clear that there would be NO staying on in the hospital. I had things to do. They ended up discharging me after they came in my room and I was fully dressed and ready to go. I made a deal to do a followup visit with the Hematologist the next week.

It was good to breath the fresh air and be free to make a plan. The formation of the ultimate plan presented itself to me on my way to work……

End Part One


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