Ann has a diagnosis now, but not a prognosis. The diagnosis is primary mediastinal large b cell lymphoma. It’s rare — only 2% of all lymphomas are this particular type — but it most commonly occurs in women in their 30s. My sister just turned 30 this year.
The next thing we are waiting on is an abdominal scan, which apparently is not the same thing as the CT Scan she had the other week, and will tell us how far the cancer has spread, and what stage it is at. The abdominal scan is scheduled for the coming Thursday. That’s most of what we know now. Because this cancer is an aggressive (fast-growing) one, Ann will probably be starting chemo very soon. On the plus side, this kind of lymphoma is supposed to respond well to treatment.
It’s weird, all this. I was talking to Ann on the phone before the biopsy results came in, and she had been reading up on this place called Cancer Care Northwest, which is near where she lives in Spokane. It offers all the traditional treatments, but also offers things like counseling, nutrition advice, and yoga classes… Not to mention financial counseling. Listening to Ann listing off these details, I felt like I did a few years ago when she was comparing nursing schools and we were both grumbling light-heartedly about our careers and what we wanted to do with our lives. Somehow hearing cancer treatment centers discussed in the same way made the whole thing seem like just one more degree program, a bunch of hard classes that Ann will sign up for and pass. Ann always passes her classes, and it seems obvious (in the illogical way of emotions) that she will make it through this as well.
Life right now seems to be about picking up the bits and pieces. It’s like walking into a room where somebody has dropped something made of glass and there are sharp things all over the floor that have to be cleaned up. First you pick up the large pieces — a CT Scan here, a biopsy there. Then you have to get out the broom and sweep up all the smaller pieces, because those things can hurt just as much if you step on them with your bare feet.
Maybe that analogy is a stretch, but it’s true that everything seems fragmented right now, and almost all the fragments are hurting somebody.
Ann has three cats. Had three cats. Her oldest, a sweet, obese, blind Siamese, had to be put down yesterday. She had been sick for some time — having seizures, losing weight, not keeping her body temperature up. The blood tests were non-conclusive but the vet thought that her liver might be failing. In our family pets are important, so this was really hard news for Ann.
In my corner of the world, Ziggy is doing okay, but she had her first big bleed out a few days ago. She had been making a lot of snuffling sounds one afternoon, and when we went on an evening walk she began to sneeze. The sneezing and the snuffling are normal, but there was more of it this time. When we got back to the car I could see that the front of her muzzle was red. On the way home she sneezed a few more times and blood got sprayed around the front passenger side of the car. When we were back at home I put her on some towels in the kitchen and she kept dripping blood from her nose. She wasn’t in pain — she ate her dog food and stared very intently at the people food J was pulling out of the fridge. But the bleeding was alarming to me, and I called the after-hours vet to ask if we could up her anti-bleeding supplements for the evening. The vet said yes, and we did, and the bleeding stopped, although not before Ziggy made two large red spots on our rental unit’s carpets. (We got the blood out of the carpet with a little arm muscle and soapy water.) Since that evening, Ziggy hasn’t had any serious bleeding at all.
All the other things here have been good, I guess. Little Guy had to go in to the hospital for an endoscopy, but nothing was found to be wrong. The gastrointestinal specialist said that maybe it’s okay that he hasn’t been gaining a lot of weight, since he is not continuing to get taller and gaunter, and since he is meeting his developmental milestones. He gave us the go-ahead to begin introducing solids, and he gave me the go-ahead to begin the reintroduction of eggs and soy into my diet. When Little Guy is six months old (not too long from now) I will be allowed to *cautiously* start eating dairy again. What a relief! The elimination diet was necessary to stop Little Guy’s bloody diapers, and it sure helped me get back to my pre-pregnancy weight quickly, but I am sooo ready to be done with it.
Last, and to tell the truth, least, J has filed paperwork to officially change her name. She did it last week at the county courthouse. It was snowing out and kind of a miserable day for errands, but I wanted to come in the same way I wanted to come with her back when she got her ears pierced. Both were little big things — kind of mundane, but also worthy of celebration. After she got her ears pierced at the mall last year we went to Orange Julius for drinks. After she turned in her name change paperwork we just went home. So it was sort of boring. But I’m still glad I went along.