My Diagnosis

Sunday, January 21, 2018


There, I've said it.
It's taken me a while to accept, but I have cancer.

It started last summer with some a few swollen lymph-nodes on my neck.  I went to the doctor, but without other symptoms he wasn't concerned.
However in the fall I had some blood-work done (gyn issues) and my white blood cell count came back super high. Combine this with the swollen nodes, and there was concern.
After several CT scans and gallons of blood drawn, I finally got my diagnosis a few weeks ago.  I have something called CLL, Chronic Lymphotic Leukemia, a type of cancer that starts in the bone marrow but then goes to the blood.  It's rare--1 in 175 people .57%.  My disease is not aggressive thank goodness, but it will need to be monitored carefully.

There's a strange feeling you get when diagnosed with cancer.  It's like someone hit you over the head with a baseball bat---there's an element of surprise, shock and then pain. Next the questions and uncertainty kick in.
I've been so healthy--how could I have cancer?
Why me?
What's this going to mean for my future?
How will I live my life?
How long will I live?
How will my family deal with this?
What will my life look like?
Will I need chemo? Will I lose my hair?
And don't laugh...if I die will people think I'm a shopaholic when they see my closets of clothes? 
I'm a worrier, so you can only imagine the strange places my mind goes!

However there is some light here. As my doctor said, if you're going to get cancer CLL is not the worst one to get. Although it's not curable, it's treatable. And treatment would not take place until I become very symptomatic....this could be years away. No one knows.  For now, it's watch and wait.

After the immediate shock, I felt a sense of control. At least I know what I'm dealing with---there's a name for my illness and a course of action.  There are also things that I can do to strengthen my compromised immune system, like eating well (seeing a wholistic doctor for nutrition counseling next month), taking yoga classes, meditating, and creating a better work/life balance.  I'm a big-time worry wart, so a plan makes me feel better.  Tomorrow I am seeing a specialist at Mass General. I'll also feel better with more information and a team of doctors in place.

For now, I need to figure out how to live life to its fullest without dwelling on the negative. I don't want this disease to define me, but I can't deny that it's a reality either. Any advice?

Life is so strange. One day you're healthy, the next day you're not.  There's no crystal is what it is. I have cancer. Yikes. 

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