The Garden of Intellectual Fungus
Song - Artist -
Fado Portugues - Amalia Rodrigues -
I went in for a standard medical exam at the end of December 2010. My doctor found a slightly enlarged lymph node, and said it was probably nothing to worry about too much and I should just keep tabs on its size or if it started to hurt. Within the next week, it doubled in size. I went back and was given an antibiotic under the assumption that it was infected. This is how I discovered my first medical allergy. I broke out in hives all over my body with itching so bad I could hardly do anything. I went back and got a new antibiotic and got some blood work done for a set of tests. Everything was normal, totally healthy, all my levels were perfect. It was suggested I go to an ENT to get the lump looked at. He did a biopsy (in other words, he stabbed me in the neck repeatedly) of the lump to see what it was, but by this time, I had developed extreme pain in my abdomen and my back that was waking me up almost every night. I went to the ER that night hoping to have my gallbladder removed, as it was the most likely cause of the pain. They sent me in for an ultrasound the next day to find the gallstones. Something seemed wrong. They sent me back to the ER in a hurry. When I got there, I was greeted by an older doctor with a bald head and salmon colored shirt. For about fifteen minutes, he told me how overweight I was and that I needed to start exercising. I could tell he was stalling as he ordered a CT scan.
I came out from that, and it took him about an hour too long to come back with the results. He told me there was a mass on my liver, and a possible mass on my right kidney. The doctor looked nervous as he told me I’d be seeing an oncologist shortly, “a doctor who….um….well…specializes…um… in uh…” I cut him off, “Cancer?” I knew all the answers already, and I was old enough that I didn’t want to deal with the bullshit this guy was giving me. At this point, it had been 2 weeks since my doctor found the lump in December, which was now over double its original size. It had been 5 days since the pain started, which I now know comes from my liver. Then I met my oncologist. She was a wonderful Indian woman who didn’t go out of her way to sugar coat things. As it stood, I had a mass on my kidney (not a POSSIBLE mass like the other guy said), a fairly large mass inside my liver, and one on my neck. She ordered a biopsy on the liver for Monday the 17th. However, she did tell me, that the odds were almost certain that I had cancer at this point.
I spent the entire weekend with this information, trying to inform those who needed to know. I never really got upset about it. The only stressful thing was knowing I’d have to leave school for a semester and that I might not get to the radio show as much anymore. It was around this time I decided that I would keep a running journal of my experience and post it online for fans to read and keep up with.
On Monday, I got the biopsy done and went home. I was feeling a bit better so my dad drove me up for my fraternity meeting. I at least got to see my brothers once more before I had to go back into the hospital, which made me feel a lot better. The next morning, I woke up with an excruciating headache. This is the only time I really got scared. There was no reason for this head pain, and the meds the hospital gave me weren’t working on it. I was taken to the ER by ambulance by 7am. The doctor there was about as good as the one who kept telling me to lose weight, and suggested I go home and deal with the pain. I was on painkillers so I just agreed. Luckily, my dad wouldn’t have it. He went up to see my oncologist right away, who said I needed to see her as soon as I left the ER. She ordered a head scan with an MRI, which was in no way pleasant. My neck biopsy was back by then, and it showed that the tissue was from a lymph node. The head scan showed no tumors, which was a huge relief, and then I slept for quite some time.
I awoke to my oncologist coming in with some papers. She told me that preliminary tests showed I had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She seemed a bit confused when I high-fived her. Most people don’t react this way to a cancer diagnosis. I had looked up the possibilities, and this was one of the best things I could possibly have. They ran a few more tests on me to get more information, and as I sit here typing this; I’m getting injected with medication to prepare me to start chemo.
That’s about all I know for now, I have cancer, and it should take about 6 months to beat. And it’s going to be extremely painful.
Cody Lee is a WHUS family member who was recently diagnosed with Non-Hodgekins Lymphoma. He has decided to keep everyone up-to-date with his experience by occasional postings on WHUS.org. Cody joined WHUS in the summer of 2010 and is currently a sophomore at UConn. If you'd like to get in touch with him, you can email him at CodyLeeWHUS@gmail.com.