My journey - battling lymphoma

Recently I celebrated my 46th birthday. I love celebrating birthdays! Then I participated as a co-captain for our local "Quabog" Relay For Life and the Pack 57 Rocks! Cub Scout Team. This was the time frame that I had discovered an uneasiness in my stomach and growth in my spleen and stomach. After weeks of monitoring, my husband Steve took me to the doctor who felt the lumps and ordered a CT scan. The CT scan showed a massive area, my spleen enlarged to twice its size and an additional growth lower in my stomach. Next was the localized CT guided biopsy and subsequent PET scan. The biopsy showed positive for lymphoma and most likely Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma.

This is my online journal sharing my experience through battling this cancer that has abruptly entered my life for no apparent reason. The story is documented here if you want to start from the beginning, you can check the archives on the side bar.

As a top competitive master athlete this year winning my age group at the Marine Corps Marathon and placing 3rd in the New England Trail Running Championship I have been truly excited with my results of late and am a truly driven athlete. Driven by goals.... my goal right now.... to beat this "thing"!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I think I swallowed a tennis ball.... but now it's Shrinking!

In the beginning when we (Steve and I) were monitoring the "lump" in my stomach it was the size of a tennis ball, we would laugh and joke that maybe I swallowed one of Oakley's tennis balls....  then another tennis ball and the one that was the spleen had grown more like a small football.  It was hard to breathe on my runs, and felt so odd.  Just imagine swallowing a tennis ball and running for 8 miles.... :)  Oakley likes to run with balls in his mouth, but I wasn't so happy running with this tennis ball in my stomach.  :(

It was crazy when the docs would bring out the measuring tape and can see how big it was sticking out of my stomach.  The masses were growing at quite the rapid rate, and now that I knew about them they felt HUGE!

In the best shape of my life these past few years in my early 40's, with my marathon (3:05) and half marathon (1:28) PRs from 2007, I am at the top of my game right now for running.  I had planned on running the NE USAT Mountain Running series again so I could run Mt. Washington again next year, and well actually have a few races on my calendar to compete if at all possible through treatment.  In the beginning of the series this year I was top 3 in my age and top ten in each race.  I love mountain and trail running!  Just checked out the standings of the series and I see I was #21 woman even after only finishing 3 races..... could have been top 5! :)  That's ok - maybe next year!

2010 photos -

USAT bronze medal for finishing 3rd in the NE USAT Mountain Running Championships (master)

Mt. Wachusett - 3rd in age (up and down Mt. Wachusett, MA)

Pack Monadnock - 3rd in age (10 miles mostly uphill in NH)

I will just have to keep listening to my body and be sure to do all the right things if that is going to be reality.  Training is going fine so far - although definitely time to focus and dig deep!

This week was another week of letting people know what I am going through and a flood gate of support and prayers have been headed my way.  I can feel it!  :)  I sent a note to colleagues and missed the Houston Relay Summit and was missed by my NCTP team and the "Relay Summer Camp" participants.  :)  Judy and Kyla and Lori all kept me up to date on the participant experience and even though it was a sauna in Houston - everyone had a great time and was truly motivated!

The lumps have already started to shrink -- we can feel they are going down in size already!  The healing and strength of prayer and all those darn drugs are taking their effect.  As Dr. Barnes explained in the beginning this is a fast growing lymphoma and is also one that the size will decrease quickly as well.
As far as my other stage 4 symptoms, my night sweats continue, but with little nausea and as the time after treatment gets further away I feel much better.

Here is our family picture on the boat --- right before I started treatment the next day.  You can see how large my stomach is at the top toward the rib cage.  What a fun and beautiful family we have!  I am so truly blessed to have such an incredible support system and love all around!


Sasha said...

As I read your blogs...I struggle with something to say in response. I read them all Nancy and your strength, hope and determinaton are shining brightly. you are amazing and I am so glad that we are friends...thank you for opening up and allowing us to be with you on your journey.

Nancy E said...

Thanks Sasha! I am so happy you are reading my blog and I really do hope to be HOPE and inspiration along the way --- I have experienced so many new feelings during this journey even so far. It is good for me to write about it. Live each day to the fullest ----


Jane said...

Hey Nancy, so good to read your blog and feel your determination and strength - in other words feel YOU as you go through each challenge and change. Just crazy that this is happening, all our years of encouraging and supporting patients, and now to have such a "close to home" WHAMO. I did go through the treatments and their side effects with my mom daily, and the "metalic taste," loss of appetite, nausea, etc, are so familiar. Sucks. She gained a lot of support and friendships from her fellow chemo "buddies." Hopefully you will too, although I am sure YOU will be the leader of the Positive attitude Club! Miss you, praying and thinking of you! Love, Jane