On December 1, 2004, my life was forever changed by a diagnosis of 4th stage Follicular B-cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. A couple of harrowing months later, I was “in remission” (no sign of cancer in my body). For sixteen years, I have always attributed that success to the many prayers of friends, family, and strangers; a great oncologist who prescribed an amazing drug called Rituxin; and the amazing grace of my Lord and Saviour who (for reasons unknown to me) loves me way more than I deserve.
For a disease that is measured by “5-year survival rate”, sixteen years of remission is pretty darn good. I have been blessed indeed.
Sixteen years ago, they did say that my form of cancer was not curable. They said that they it would return someday. Well, I guess “someday” is today.
On Monday, December 7, 2020, I got the diagnosis that my lymphoma has returned.
There’s this “wonderful” paranoia that comes with being a cancer survivor. For the last sixteen years, I have scrutinized (with dread) every bump, bruise, rash, and pain wondering is this the return of “the beast”? So then, this tiny rash appeared on my head – in the exact same place that my lymphoma appeared the first time! On top of that, it looked like the rash that I had the first time. Back then, I waited too long and it was a lot bigger when I finally did anything. (You can see pictures of it here). So when they told me that my cancer had returned, I was not too surprised. I had hoped that this day would never come, but deep down, I always knew it was an unrealistic expectation.
The Good News
There is good news.
- This form of cancer is “slow-growing” ( as opposed to “aggressive”). So we have time to make good decisions regarding treatment.
- I have, again, a very good oncologist (Dr. Deborah Stephens at the Huntsman Cancer Center). She’s smart; she’s compassionate; she listens. I trust her.
- The medicine that I took last time (Rituxin) is still one of the best treatments for fighting lymphoma. So hopefully, another couple doses of that will put me in remission for another sixteen years (or longer?).
- But the best news is that, like last time, this is in God ‘s hands. For some reason, he thinks the world of me. There is really nothing I need to do except to trust him in this situation.
Best case scenario: we kick lymphoma’s butt back into remission for another 16+ years. God gets all the glory.
Worst case scenario: lymphoma kicks my butt and I get to see Jesus face-to-face and spend eternity with him sooner rather than later.
Either way, it’s a win-win situation.
The next step is to figure out how much the lymphoma has progressed. On Monday Dec 14, 2020, I go in for a PET scan to see where, in my body, they can find traces of the cancer. If they find it below my belt, they’ll call it 4th stage (again).
Stay tuned. I plan to update my blog more often with details/progress.