It’s sort of hard to process all the info that an oncologist can throw at you. You try writing it all down as fast as you can and hope that your notes make sense. Luckily, these are very patient doctors and do take the time to make sure you don’t leave with questions unanswered. As we figured, the biopsy and the PET scan show lymph node involvement and lymphoma in the stomach mass. The question that’s still up in the air is whether the small cell lymphoma has transformed into the current diffuse large B cell lymphoma or is this a new cancer. To us it doesn’t really matter. The big question is always, what’s next?
Well, we’ve got a whole lotta what’s nexts. There are a few more diagnostic tests to undergo… a bone marrow biopsy, EKG, blood work, muga scan to check that Rich’s heart is up to the chemo task. They’re going to install a port this time around to make treatment and blood work easier on Rich.
That’s all the prep work. Then Rich will begin R-CHOP – the same chemo he had before. (rituximab,cyclophosphamide,doxorubicin, Oncovin, prednisone)
This time it will either be administered over a few days with a hospital stay or over period of time in three or four sessions. the remaining two cycles of chemo will be using R-I-C-E (rituximab, ifosfamide, carboplatin and etoposide. The reason for the two different types is so that we don’t max out on some of the drugs’ lifetime amounts and to give a more broad- spectrum plan of attack. There’s some more consults to have in regards to the final course of action, but so far, this is the basic plan.
This is all in preparation for autologous stem cell transplant. This is where they will extract Rich’s own bone marrow cells from his blood, treat it to remove the cancer and maybe boost ‘em up with some growth hormone and reintroduce it to his body so that it can generate healthy cells. At that point, he can be in the hospital for up to a month while the new cells replicate and his immune system gets back up and running.
After the successful stem cell transplant (because really, we’ve decided to refuse anything but success, thank you very much) then he’ll return to a sanitized home to continue to build his immune system and regain his strength.
We’re thankful that we have a team of specialists who are tops in their fields and who we trust implicitly.
We’re thankful the doctors are taking all our wonderful celebrations into account and working with us on the scheduling for Nicks’ graduation and Richard & Noelle’s wedding.
We’re thankful that the acupuncture continues to afford relief.
We’re thankful that surgery is not indicated so Rich gets to keep his favorite stomach.
We’re thankful that you’re all with us on this journey and we know you’ll be there for us as you have been in the past.
And yes, we’ll take all offers of help because we know we can’t do this alone.
So now it’s time to get out the travel Scrabble game… ‘cuz during times of high medication is the only time Rich loses at Scrabble.