I am 48 and it was just over two months ago cancer made itself known in my circle. Not me, my boyfriend. (How is that possible I made it to this age and have known none first hand with cancer? Amazing.) But now, I am getting front right seat to cancer and treatment. So here is how this story starts at the nicest places you never want to visit, the Alfond Cancer Care Center and new MaineGeneral.

(And Feb 4th is World Cancer Day!  I  had no idea when I decided to share this story that today was the day. Spooky!)

In November, my boyfriend Patrick had a weird bump on the back of his head.  The doctor thought it may be a cyst; to he was sent to a surgeon. By then it had shrunk and was harder to find. So, the surgeon sent him for a CAT scan. Well, that showed there was ‘something’ going on with his lymphatic system. That he was almost certain it was lymphoma. (What the what, what?) That was a few days before Thanksgiving.

Patrick was set up for a surgery to pop one of those lymph nodes out and test it. Check. Surgery. Results? Now to meet with an oncologist. Now we are Christmas Eve, and the doc says she more information is needed. More tests. More surgery. Check. They need a PET scan and a bone marrow sample. Check. See with some lymphoma’s they don’t treat, the just keep any eye one it changes.(And why do they seem to love to schedule Patrick’s appointments so close to holidays?)

The PET scan is like a ramped up CAT scan of the body and involved being wrapped up warm blankets and while a radioactive contrast is working its way through ones system. Then we get to the one that scared me, but Patrick was fine...the bone marrow test. They used a little drill to zip in there, get the bone marrow. He did it like a champ. (Hospital drugs are the best.)

Those last tests were done, and another doctor’s appointment is scheduled…the day before we leave on vacation. (I know, but at least he would have the answers before vacation and not have question marks hanging over his head) Yes, cancer. Yes, small cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma. (He needs to get it in writing; I think they should have to give you the diagnosis in writing so you I am sure there was another word or two in there.) Then we learn more about ALL the tests. They can look at very specific areas of the nodes and bone marrow and tell what parts of Patrick may or may not involve. Yes, there is bone marrow involvement. ( I have to admit the PET scan, reading the report on the bone marrow show exactly what little part had the problem, that stuff is DARN amazing on what they tell the docs and create focused treatments.) Good to know. He might have to look a bone marrow transplant IF chemo does not work. IF. (That same day a reminder from the bone marrow bank arrived for me to reconfirm my info, more spooky stuff!)

So his cancer is a cancer that will need treatment. Well thank you Harold Alfond for helping to bring the Alfond Cancer Care Center into being.  I have to admit, having all these appointment and now his treatments all right in our town has made an unpleasant situation more manageable. And the new MaineGeneral is an amazing place to have the surgeries and some services done.

Now a new set of appointments and another surgery. (Ya see, surgery is kind of a frustrating for a ‘planner’ like me, they don’t tell the time until the day before, that is just not how it is done, so it hard to plan around it.)  This time it is for the port in Patrick’s chest. The port will serve as where the chemo will go in and they can take blood out. This way they don’t have to keep trying to find a vein for any of that. (In all of this, that port seems to have been and it’s the most annoying thing for him. Hope that the port remains his biggest ‘pain’).

So here we are, Patrick’s port is in, treatment plan is drawn up, chemo class is this week (yes, they give you a chemo class to give the scoop on what to expect and tons of info and time to ask questions) and he starts chemo in a week.

I will let you know how chemo class turns out. Hope the person has a sense of humor. Patrick and I do. That is how we manage things with a sometimes twisted sense of humor. Maybe I should warn them, but where is the fun in that?