Oncologist

Oncologist.

It’s a scary word – one you never want to precede with “my.”  Unfortunately, now I do.  I’ve been diagnosed with a form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  (If you are interested in knowing more about the specifics of this, see the lymphoma page.)

Between Christmas and New Year’s Day I felt an enlarged lymph node on my neck. I went to the doctor the next week and was told it was likely due to an infection. The doctor told me to give it six weeks. A week later, another enlarged lymph node appeared. Back to the doctor’s office. This time, I was prescribed a ten day course of antibiotics. No change.  I decided to give it more time – mostly because I didn’t want the scheduler at my doctor’s office to label my file with “neurotic frequent flyer.”

Mid-March and back to my doctor’s office. He referred me to an ENT.  On April 6, I saw the ENT who did a fine needle biopsy and ordered a swallow test at the hospital for two days later. Just over a week later, I got the results – not positive for cancer, but indicated there might be a possibility.

On April 29 it was back to the hospital for surgery. The lymph node was removed – along with a spot on my tonsils and the bottom of my tongue. (Living the dream here!)  Results were positive for the lymph node – but fortunately benign for the other spots. May 7 off to see another ENT. (Long story.)  Another biopsy – this time of the adenoids. Positive for lymphoma.

Saw my oncologist at the Lacks Cancer Center in Grand Rapids on May 17.  She carefully explained that this type of lymphoma is treatable, but not curable.  It’s important to emphasize the word treatable here.  The goal is to watch the symptoms and then treat to send the cancer back into remission.  Remissions can last for a very long time – indeed, for years.  Currently my symptoms are fairly minimal – so no plans to start treatment yet.

Treatment is likely to involve a targeted type of chemo. I’ve had about 2 gallons of blood removed and a CT scan.  The results of those will determine which chromosome the cancer is attached to and the CT scan will determine the size of the lymph nodes in my neck, abdomen and pelvic area.  Best case scenario, I won’t have to start any treatments in the foreseeable future.

How am I feeling?  People often describe these things as a journey or a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Those don’t seem to work for me. I’m not going on a trip and there are no thrills involved. Honestly, it just sucks. Sometimes I’m angry, or numb, or beyond sad…and other times optimistic.

Friday morning we meet with my oncologist again.  She will share the results of the latest tests and then hopefully I won’t see her again for another 3 months…and then another 3 months….and then….well,  I’m sure you get the picture. I’ll share results soon after.

My British friends have a great phrase: “Keep Calm and Carry On”….and that’s the plan. Indeed, I’m off to the UK on June 4 with a great colleague and 12 wonderful Hope students.

Thanks in advance for your positive thoughts and prayers.

21 thoughts on “Oncologist

  1. Tony!
    What terrible news, yet we are pleased to know you do not need immediate treatment and that the lymphoma has not affected your sense of humor. 😂
    Please know you and your family will be in our prayers. You might even find us in your swimming pool!! Whether near or far we will be holding only good thoughts for you.
    Good luck with your appointment tomorrow and here’s to no follow up for months and months.
    Hugs to you,
    Your faithful Taber family

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love you Tony! My love and prayers are with you. Wish with all my heart that you didn’t have to deal with this. Like Thea said, you have good Donk dutch stock and a whole tribe of sibblings who will do anything and everything to help . Prayers are going up for you and T and the kids. I’m available any time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tony, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Thank you for your courageous writing. As you know, I’ve journeyed with many, many people through similar situations. If my long distance “presence” would feel helpful, please feel free to call me. I’m still beaming from our serendipitous reuniting last June.

    You are dear to me.

    Warmly,

    Cathleen Jaworowski Wolff

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tony, you still remain one of my favorite Hope professors! I am so sorry to hear this news, but thank you for sharing. I’m sending good thoughts your way and keeping you and your family in my prayers during this hard time. I hope Europe brings some positive distraction. Enjoy Liverpool! Lots of love, Jill

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tony,
    So sorry to hear this news. You and your family are definitely in our prayers. Hope the UK trip does lots to uplift your spirits. Hanging out with Bill will be a blast.

    All our best,
    Rich and Carol

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This sucks.
    And just to be clear: We love you, like you and happily tolerate you! A trifecta!
    Hugs through the ether for all four of you.

    Like

  7. Tony & family,
    So sorry and sad with and for you. Thank you for sharing this with us. Please do keep us posted. We will follow along with the many, many, many others who love & care for you. We are thinking and praying for you. Enjoy Liverpool. Stay well!!!
    Keep us posted.
    ~ Love, Steve, Heather, Jakob, Linnea, Torsten, and Elsa Karlson

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Indeed. Thank you for sharing. Know that even when you want to rail at God and life in general, God is a very present help in times of trouble. You have many prayers going up for you. Give yourself permission to grieve. If I don’t say anything in the days to come, it’s because I’m following your lead. If you want to talk or have a specific prayer request, I’m your woman. Do not mistake silence for non-supportive. You are loved.

    Vicki-Lynn

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hugs, Peace and Hope from the Monettas.
    I just listened to a podcast about the amazing strides that are being made in treating cancer/lymphoma.
    I have to believe you’re in good hands, as well as many hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Tony,

    Much love, many hugs, and mountains of prayers for you, Theresa, Kelsey, and Keenan! Thanks for sharing with all of us. Know that you are loved and surrounded by those who care.
    Love,
    Kari Maki

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Love you Big Brother! My love and prayers are with you, Tee, Kelsey and Keenan. Remember every time you see a hummingbird and / or butterfly you have 2 very special angles watching over you. Like Thea (and Willie 🙂 ) said, you have good Donk dutch stock and a whole tribe of sibblings who will do anything and everything to help . Love you to pieces 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This plain old sucks beyond words. Please know that TeamBoes is here to support you. We can make morbid jokes, laugh, cry, swear, pray, play amazing original songs with the Boes Family Band (Callan is our front man), food, drinks, whatever you need, we’ve got it and it’s yours!

    This horrible monster takes a village to fight, we will be your first residents!

    Like

    • We’ve never met in person – yet I feel like I know you in some small way. I’ve watched some of your video blogs. In fact, they were one of the reasons I started my own blog. Cancer leaves us with such a diminished sense of power….but telling your own story the way you want it told restores just a very little bit of that. Every little bit helps in this shit show.

      Thanks for your support. I am prepared to do the same for you. I am particularly good at the swearing and morbid jokes part at the moment. One of the “cruel” symptoms I am experiencing is an inability to tolerate alcohol. Now that really sucks….but I am told I qualify for a medical marijuana cards…so there’s that….

      Thanks for being residents in my village. I’ll try to be a good neighbor to you too.

      Like

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