health: the big C

urban bohemian, up close and smiling …followed by a little a-n-c-e & r.*

“Are you ok?” is a question I’ve had to answer a lot in over the past week. Well, yes and no. Yes in that I have a diagnosis, it’s got a good prognosis and I’ve already got appointments scheduled to determine the best treatment regiment. No in that I have cancer, a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with, as I said, a good prognosis, but still cancer. Or as a friend joked, cancer-lite.

There have been suspicions from the beginning that this was something weird but no idea what. My second biopsy results confirmed it and I’m told that this is a very rare form**, so much so that it’s only recently been classified and my doctor hasn’t even seen any cases of it yet. He took photos of my forehead which may be used at a medical conference*** and while I was relieved at their opinions, the one thing that struck me most was his statement, “You’ll come back in to see me, probably for years.” as this is something that will need to be monitored, probably for the rest of my life. It was that idea that really slammed me, the rest of my life. Most of the materials they gave me have titles to the effect of “Living with Cancer”.

I think I’d like to go back to thinking that this was just keloid scarring. Unsightly, but harmless.

As I said, the prognosis is good, the doctor and nurse practitioner said that 90+ percent of cases have responded well to treatment, and I’m asymptomatic with the only effects manifesting on my forehead. And they want to move quickly, so I have both a PET scan and bone marrow biopsy scheduled for Monday. I don’t expect either one to be terribly pleasant, but I’ll have friends with me.

I may joke a lot about it, to make myself feel better, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared and freaked out. It’s not that I thought I was invincible, I mean I knew as I approached 40 it meant a whole new level of getting checked out and taking care of oneself, but I honestly didn’t expect this. (Albeit, that’s sometimes just how cancer is.) There’s no history of it in my family, and my own history hasn’t had anything–travel, exposure, poisoning attempts–that might explain this. Well, I can’t really speak to that last one as I have more or less actively dated in DC for the past ten years. One is bound to pick up enemies along the way. :mrgreen:

Right now I’m far more likely to grouse about the impending inconvenience of the appointments and treatments and who knows what else. This is the time when being single and car-less in DC feels like a real pain in the ass.**** With the majority of my doctors working out of WHC, moving to SE DC is feeling like a bonehead move. In any case, I’m ok… and I’m not ok, but you can’t always be prepared for what life’s going to send your way.

* So that’s C + ancer = Cancer. Not a C followed by a tiny dancer, which may have been an actual sketch on The Electric Company.

** Yay, me! If I’m going to get a form of cancer, it may as well be something new. How fashionable! I feel so in the now.

*** Again, yay! The doctor took photos with his Droid phone then proceeded to have no idea how to find or retrieve them. “I’ll figure it out,” said he.

**** Speaking of bone marrow biopsies… they’re taking it out of my hip. This is officially the worst reason for me to be walking funny, ever.

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18 Responses

  1. Alejandra says:

    I’m sending all my good joo joo your way mister. I love ya! And I’m always here to help…rent a zipcar to pick you up, cook, clean, make you laugh with funny dances. 🙂

  2. Chris says:

    I’m so sorry. I hope that treatment is swift & effective. I’ll light a candle at church tomorrow & think of you.

  3. mazzie says:

    I was so holding out for alien baby that would use your body to take over the world. Ah, well.

    I was thinking this week about how so many of us have moved away from our families and haven’t yet started our own (in the most traditional sense), and how fortunate we are to have found one another. An how fortunate we are to have margaritas.

    Love you.

    (is this where I get to make a joke about ripping a band aid off a penis?)
    .-= latest entry: Thank you, Dr. Dorothy Height =-.

  4. Jenna says:

    I’m really sorry – like, having health problems can change your life so suddenly in such a scary way. I’m glad that it’s a good prognosis, but I’m sure dealing with the diagnosis and treatment is a big challenge. I’ll be thinking good thoughts for you.
    .-= latest entry: Kitchen Basics: How to Stock Your Pantry For Baking =-.

  5. TanyaD says:

    Brian, I’m sorry to hear this. I’ll be sending good health mojo your way. Hope all goes well, treatment is swift and you recover quickly.

  6. Sean808080 says:

    Healing rays and light going your way!

  7. Norman says:

    OMG, I had no idea. I am sorry that you have to go through this. Give me a call if you want to talk.

  8. RondaMarie says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis, my thoughts are with you as you go through treatment.
    .-= latest entry: And you wait =-.

  9. Jhim says:

    I have a car and I’m free before noon every day, off on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesday if you need taxi services.

  10. Daniel says:

    omg! wishing you all the best of course! awwww. you know it may suck but at least you have an explanation and diagnosis! there is a lot of people who live their lives with no one being able to explain what is going on and that is the worst thing ever!

    I have a dear friend from Houston who I randomly met through twitter, she is a work-a-holic and she kept getting bad headaches a lot! she went for a check up and then a scan and had cancer of the eyes! it was a really bad one and she had a lump on the optic nerve of one eye! they did radiotherapy and it did not do anything and they did surgery which sadly left her blind in one eye but they got the lump! they were very worried about the other eye, but all is okay so far! she has to have a check up every 6 months! she is just 30 🙁 she is doing really well and in the clear at the moment! But it shows if you are ever worried about anything, go and get it checked out!

    wishing you all the best with it! if you need anything let me know xx
    .-= latest entry: DanielJUK: @OhBlimey you and the mrs and all the kids? 🙂 =-.

  11. karona says:

    Awwwww, Urb. That sucks. 🙁 Sucks, and is scary, too. However, not that it’s probably any consolation to you right now, I know not one but TWO guys with cancer (of the pills.. er, only one pill each, actually), who went through about 6 months of treatment each, different kinds, many years ago, and now get checkups every two years for a very long time but other than that have led normal lives.

    Well, as normal as they were beforehand.

    I foresee a similar thing with you, except you get to keep your manbits. Hooray!

    Uh, anyway. What I mean to say is, I’m here rooting for you, sweetpea. xoxo

  12. Rick Bman says:

    The big C-word is never a good one to hear but it is good that they seem to be positive about treatment. You know we’re here for you if you need anything.

  13. Andrea says:

    We may have health issues, but we’re still fabulous. I hear ya on the “don’t have a car and the appointments are annoying” front. The first cocktail is on me when I finally get my butt back to DC.
    .-= latest entry: John who? =-.

  14. Brian says:

    Blargh–all you people need to stop getting cancer. You’re the second person to be diagnosed this week (the first being my sister last Wednesday).

    Seriously, now that I’m back in DC, you need anything, anything at all, just call. Anything in my power to do, I’ll be glad to do.

  15. lacochran says:

    We’ve been away so I’m just catching up… Sending healing energy your way and hugs, too!
    .-= latest entry: "Big ol’ jet airliner, don’t carry me too far away" –Steve Miller Band =-.

  16. CocteauBoy says:

    I feel like such a schmuck to say, “I totally understand how you feel,” because this is the kind of thing that is so completely personal that it’s hard to think anyone can understand the mix of emotions and impact, but… I totally understand how you feel.

    Living with my diagnosis of AIDS brings about its own horrors and emotions and condemnations and fears and perspectives and ups and downs and angers and sadnesses and isolation and taboos and judgement and pity and confusions and awkwardness… on and on.

    I live on a treatment of chemical chemotherapy that is also to be for the “rest of my life.” Those words tend to bring a twist of conflict between their meaning this will be a long, long time, and it meaning, this might not last very long.

    My point in sharing this is that you aren’t alone, neither in support, or in your mosaic of feelings about the experience.

    If you ever want to talk, you know how to contact me. We may not be diagnosed with the same thing, but the impact may be very, very similar. That common ground can mean the difference between carrying the weight alone, and sharing the weight with a friend who truly “gets it.”

    I’m here.

    For now, at least!

  17. Yogitastic says:

    You don’t know me and I don’t know you and maybe my message won’t help but I wanted you to know that I am hoping everything turns out okay. Inane… and inadequate… I know but I’m sending positive thoughts your way and I wanted you to know that.

    Sam (aka Yogitastic)

  18. Shakti says:

    Thanks for sharing what’s been going on. I’ve enjoyed reading your tweets – your observations are unique and make me smile – and am glad to have finally read a full-length blog post by you. Your a good writer, Brian. I wish you good health and success in the future.

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