Author Archives: ben

Back to Basics

So right after I email everyone telling them that I won’t be sending out mass emails and will only really be posting on my site so as not to annoy everyone, my site goes down. I blame SCIENCE! Oh well, let’s hope that doesn’t happen again.

I went into work yesterday and felt pretty good for most of the day. I went down to the gym just to stretch out a bit and test the range of motion in my right shoulder because of the port. I was shocked that I was able to do some push-ups without any problems. Even more, I couldn’t believe that I was able to stretch out completely and do a few full wide grip pull-ups. Just two or three to see how it felt. I’m pretty excited that it felt that well already. Maybe I’ll try a more normal workout later this week.

Sara and I were planning on meeting up at CEFC(our church) later in the evening for a membership class. Since I was heading that way I stopped at Becky’s to pass the time. I was feeling kind of gross so she fixed me up some yummy scrambled eggs to fill my stomach. It seems like I feel better the more I have something in my belly. However, I did weight myself at the gym yesterday and I was pushing 189. but that’s most likely a ton of water weight from all of fluids that were pumped into me the previous day and that I keep eating so I don’t feel gross. I better be careful I don’t get put on the biggest loser show next year at this rate.

Membership class was great but it ended fairly late. We didn’t get home until around 10pm and I was whupped from the entire day. I slept in this morning a bit because I was just beat. I think I should be able to take it easier today and just get some packing done for Myrtle Beach instead of all the running around.

Two days into the torture! Tony says, “Bring It!”

Here Goes Nothing!

In a few minutes I’ll be heading out for my first long grueling day of ABVD chemotherapy.  I’ll be getting treatment for about eight hours today.  I just hope with all of the many drugs they will be giving me that none of them react badly to me or each other and I make it through such a long day.  Sara is coming with me to keep me company.

All or nothing, Round 1 FIGHT!

Update: I’m home and happy to be here.  We spent a loooooong day getting chemo.  They started the first drugs around 8:30am this morning and we finished up the last at 3pm. I was hooked up the whole time and had to cart my little drip bag around with me to the bathroom, of which I frequented.  Sara got me lunch around 12:30pm, Wendy’s to the rescue!

They started the Rituxan drip last, which took about three hours alone.  While Sara was out getting lunch I started getting itchy on my scalp. A Cortisone drip had to be added while I was finishing the Rituxan. We made it! 1 down, only 11 more treatments to go!!!

We stopped at Giant Eagle’s pharmacy on the way home to pick up some prescriptions for nausea and other stuff associated with the drugs. They are precautionary, hopefully I won’t have to use them.

Thank you everyone for thinking of us and praying for us for today. It was nerve racking in anticipation, but I feel as though it went very well. I’m not looking forward to next time, but at least I know what to expect.  Check out all of the photos below.

p.s. – When I got home I check my emails of course. But I also checked a package I’m tracking for a new iPod battery I ordered online. Well check out where it showed up today! Not funny UPS, not funny…okay maybe a little.

Last Day of Freedom

ruths_chris

Sara and I went out to Ruth’s Chris last night for a big date.  We both got some juicy steaks to celebrate the rough upcoming months. She even went to the Pittsbugh Comicon yesterday just to show me how much she loves me. Seriously, that IS LOVE! She got to see the sights, smell the stinky smells, and even hang out with Darth.  She patiently waited with me for about three hours while I flipped through all of the $1 bins looking for those elusive few issues I haven’t been able to find.  Luckily I got nine issue of my want list a few extra for fun and only spent $25.  We had a good time and some good people watching, heck we even saw 86 year old Stan Lee!  Well, from about 75 yards we saw him.

Tearing Down the Castle

port_pose

As many know I’ve worked hard over the past two years at the gym almost everyday.  My friend Tim has shown me that I can achieve any goal with my body that I have set out.  Before I switched jobs in March of 2007 I was a 155-160lb wuss, since then I’m a steady 185lb beefcake. At least that’s what a few have deemed me.  I finally feel like my size had caught up to my height.  I say that like it just happened one day, but in reality it took eating like a maniac and lifting seriously heavy weights that scare the crap out of me.  My ultimate goal was to hit and maintain the mid 190’s and have an awesome Tony Horton Beachbody™ for Myrtle Beach next week.  However August’s news and crazy amounts of surgery and tests have squashed that plan.

I’m not going to let it all go though. Depending on how I feel on Monday will really determine my mindset for these next six months.  I’m hoping to bounce right back from it and hit the gym on Tuesday.

Thank you for everyone that has sent me an email, sent me a card, wished me well, and more.  I really appreciate all of the support.  I’m going to need a lot more for the next half of the year.

p.s. – The port that you see in my chest was inserted yesterday and it is sore and kinda hurts like a b1*ch!  I couldn’t raise my arms and flex even if I wanted to.

One month ago today…

I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, my sub type is Nodular Lymphocyte Predominate.

August was a crazy month, I had surgery to remove a very large lump in my neck on the 1st.  Since then it’s been numerous appointments trying to prepare for the inevitable, chemo.

I guess I’m finally letting this all out because tomorrow I go in for another surgery to get a port placed in my chest and on Monday the 14th I start chemotherapy. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared about all of the crazy side-effects and the damage that is done to every cell of my body undergoing this kind of treatment.

Last week I received the news of chemotherapy as my treatment, all month long we were hoping and praying for the lymphoma to be in my neck only and I would only have to endure some local radiation. However I’ve been classified as stage 3A. The 3 meaning that the cancer is spread throughout other lymph areas of my body and the A meaning that I do not have any symptoms of the disease.

Over the past few weeks I have endured many tests, from simple blood samples, to a bone marrow biopsy, and a 3 hour CT/PET scan of my neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis. The good news is that my blood work came back normal. And the big praise is that the bone marrow results came back negative. Since lymphoma is a blood cancer and bone marrow is where your blood is created, this is a very good thing

However the CT/PET scans showed “uptake” in lymph nodes in other areas of my body other than my neck. I have enlarged nodes in both of my armpits, my back, and pelvis as well as the obvious neck area. So basically for the PET scan I had a radioactive sugar mixture pumped into me. Since cancer gobbles up sugars more quickly than anything else that mixture collects in cancerous areas which is what is seen on the scans, or uptake. The CT scan with contrast allows them to look at the actual nodes and measure them. Most normal nodes are under 1cm. Mine are all between 1.5 – 2cm. The one that was removed from my neck was about 2.5cm. My spleen, which is the biggest lymph node in your body, is normal.

I’ve also had many other tests last week to check how I will do with the chemo. I’ve had heart and lung tests, pulminary and MUGA. The chemotherapy is called ABVD, which is the most common. It’s a super long abbreviation for four different drugs. All which require other drugs to counteract the side effects of those drugs.

We also got a second opinion from a doctor at Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh, but it was just to ease our minds on what treatment is already laid out for me. Tomorrow I will be getting a “port” installed in my chest to make blood work and the chemo more tolerable. I will likely be getting stuck with a needle several times a week and the chemo breaks a lot of tissue down. So there is greater risk of collapsing a blood vessel or two. I already bruise pretty easily from regular needle work. A port is a little plastic disc that sits just under the skin that has a numbing agent. Needles can be inserted into it without any discomfort.

Chemo will be administered once every other week for approximately 3-5 hours at the oncologist’s office by North Park. Then I will “recover” for 2 weeks and do it again. We are planning on heading down to Myrtle Beach on the 18th. We are still undecided about whether we will try to start and go down, if I feel bad we will skip our vacation, or if we will push back the start of the chemo for two weeks further.

We appreciate all of the love and support that we have received so far and look forward for more to come.

In a previous post I listed a timeline of how this was discovered and my journey thus far.  You can see it directly here: My Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Timeline.  I will try my best to keep this up to date.  I’m keeping a physical journal to keep track of everything and transferring later.

Now that I’m letting everyone know about this I may as well post about it, so stay tuned here for current information. You can add my site to your RSS reader here: RSS Feed

Lastly I know that we have been receiving amazing outpouring from everyone.  There are many who have asked us how they can help out.  There are fundraising events throughout the nation at www.lightthenight.org if you would like to help awareness and support for sickos like me.  Also if you really feel the need I’ve set up a wishlist of silly things that will make me smile through this next six months or so of chemotherapy and testing.  You can see my wishlist here: Wishpot. I realize my gadget boy tastes may be a little crazy so like I said it’s just for fun.

Thank you everyone, information is listed below for the curious.  Call me or email me if you want to check up, it makes my day!

Light the Night – Participation and Awareness
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – Wikipedia
Nodular Lymphocyte Predominant Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – Wikipedia
Lymphoma – WebMD
Adult Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – Cancer.gov
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – Mayo Clinic
LymphomaInfo.net
Lymphoma.org
Chemotherapy – Wikipedia
ABVD –  Wikipedia
Bone Marrow – Wikipedia
Rituxan – Wikipedia, also www.rituxan.com
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