Growing up is hard to do. As a 24 year old, just starting out in the working world, being diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma can be a big blow. Here's my attempt at putting it behind me as smoothly as possible.

30 August, 2005

Bone Marrow Biopsy

I was really worried about today's procedure. Had some bloodwork first (I don't know why they have to do this every single time I go!!!) then I sat in the operating room for a bit in my gown with my Dad. Dr. Blahey showed up, kicked my Dad out (though I'm sure he didn't want to be there), and told me what was going to happen. Two bone marrow samples and a bone core sample. They got me to curl up in the fetal position and froze my back where your hip bones are. They made an incision and pushed something into the bone, I think to break open a hole. That didn't really hurt much, but it was a lot of pressure. Then they stuck in a needle and withdrew bone marrow twice. This was a really sharp pain, but it went away pretty quickly as well. Next he got out what felt like a hand drill and he cranked away for a couple minutes to get the bone core sample. It was really weird and was scary thinking about what was happening. All in all, I think it went better than I was expecting.

They told me that I can't have a bath for 24 hours. Now I'm in a bind! No showers or baths! I think my girlfriend will be leaving me shortly! I am all scheduled for the next appointments now. PET scan tomorrow, an appointment with Dr. Blahey to talk about my chemo/radiation on September 13th and my first chemo session is September 14th. I guess it's all underway now...

Lymph Node Biopsy

Yesterday was my neck biopsy and I wasn't really worried about it before going in. Shortly after checking in and getting changed into my gown they came to give me an IV. They stuck it in my hand, missed the vein, moved it around some and I passed out. My Dad said afterwards that I was convulsing and when I woke up there was quite a bit of commotion going on around me, probably about 10 nurses. There was mention of a "code blue in day surgery" sounding on the PA system, I guess that was me! I don't really know what caused it, the same thing happened with my first fine needle aspiration. I've had several IV's lately though and they all went fine. Maybe it was the fasting and dehydration. Dawn showed up just as I was waking up and was wondering what all the commotion was about, I'm glad she wasn't there to see me in convulsions.

I guess they gave up on giving me an IV, so they instead started one a couple hours later when they wheeled me into the operating theatre. It went fine and they said that I would start feeling drowsy, wouldn't remember anything and would probably just go to sleep. I didn't feel any different! They froze my neck with local and began the surgery. It was pretty quick and easy. They wheeled me into the recovery room for 15 minutes or so to watch me, then back to my room for an hour to watch me some more. The pain isn't too bad, it just hurts when I swallow or move my left arm. I can't shower for 2 days now, so I guess I'm switching to baths.

26 August, 2005

I'm Oriented

Just got back from a great session at Tom Baker. My parents, Dawn and Jon all came with me which was really nice. There was about an hour long presentation, mostly on chemo side effects and how to manage them. I think it really helped and calmed us down a bit. It doesn't sound all that bad now. We got a tour of the hospital and got to see the chemo rooms. I got a nice folder of information about the specific chemo drugs I'll be on. I'm feeling a little more comfortable now. I just wish it was Thursday already and my surgery, bone marrow test and PET scan were done!

25 August, 2005

PET Scan Down!

The PET scanner is down today so they rescheduled me for next Wednesday. I guess I can eat breakfast now. It sucks because now I'm missing a going away lunch for a coworker.

We had our first Nortel Corporate Challenge volleyball practice last night and I'm pretty excited for it. It went really well and it's great to be playing indoor again. Our team is pretty strong, but I hope I can make it. I also hope that if I make the team I don't have to miss it because of treatments. One more practice and then they make cuts.

23 August, 2005

Getting scheduled

I'm getting most of my staging scheduled now. PET scan this Thursday, orientation Friday (my family and I can meet everybody at Tom Baker, get a tour, listen to a talk about cancer, etc.), then the neck biopsy next Monday and bone marrow Tuesday. I guess after they have the results I'll meet with Dr. Blahey to figure out chemo/radiation plans.

Dawn came home last night and it's really great to have her back. She got me some amazing presents from Italy and I'm wearing my new shirt today!

I added some links on the side by popular demand. Some informative links and some links to other peoples blogs which I have read to give me the lowdown on what to expect. You might find them informative, give them a read if you want.

20 August, 2005


As much as I didn't want this to affect my life, it has started to really affect it. I already cancelled on my volleyball team for the Nortel Summer Games and now my family and I just decided to cancel our Hawaii trip. It would end up delaying my treatment by about a month and none of us really felt comfortable doing that. I guess I'll have extra vacation for next year now....

18 August, 2005

First visit to Tom Baker

I'm back from the doctor finally. I had to get a whole bunch of preliminary stuff done today, more x-rays, bloodwork, urine test, height and weight measured, met the nurse and doctor who will be doing most of the stuff with me, etc. I have my neck biopsy scheduled for the 29th, bone marrow biopsy for the 30th, a PET scan somewhere around there and then chemo/radiation will start after that. Probably about 4 months of chemo and radiation at once. It turns out that my CAT scans weren't clean and I actually have a chain of about 6 cancerous lymph nodes. I was super scared when he said that but he said it's pretty normal and he still considers this to be localized. I told him about my Hawaii trip and he said that we might have to delay treatment until after the trip (I had hoped they could maybe do a cycle before I go), but that Hodgkins is a pretty slow cancer so that it wouldn't matter too much. I guess it's all pretty good news then, but I'm not looking forward to it one bit!

17 August, 2005

Going to Tom Baker

When I talked to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre yesterday they were pretty surprised at how long it was taking me to get stuff going with my other doctor. They just called and told me that I'm supposed to come in tomorrow. It'll just be an informative session and they'll book me for orientation, the biopsy, chemo, etc. I'm glad things are moving along quicker now. It's nice to know that I'm at Tom Baker finally too. Things are looking up!

16 August, 2005

The wheel's in motion!

Dr. Gillis is back in the office so I can resume pestering them over the phone! Due to a cancellation at the hospital they had an opening for surgery on August 29th, so that's when my biopsy is going to take place. It feels good to have a date scheduled now, even if it is almost 2 weeks away. The receptionist also gave me the CAT scan results and everything looks good! There seems to be no spread in my chest or abdomen which is great. About a week after the biopsy I will have the results and be transferred over to the Tom Baker Centre and a week after that I'll be going to Hawaii! I don't know what they're going to say about my vacation, but I'm going to be adamant about going, that's for sure!

08 August, 2005

Back to waiting

Visited my family doctor's backup today. It sounds like I'll need a referral from the diagnosing doctor (Dr. Gillis) and that I might need a tissue sample (surgical biopsy) as well before going to Tom Baker. Dr. Gillis is back next week so I'll be able to talk to him then, but it sounds like the biopsy might not be done this month! My dad has to fully pay for our Hawaii trip (Sept 16-Oct 2) next week so I guess he's just going to go ahead and do it. Hopefully chemo will start when I get back from Hawaii. I just want to know what's going on!

05 August, 2005


No, not mine, every doctor in the city of Calgary! I need to get a referral to get into the Tom Baker Center (Calgary's cancer center) and both Dr. Gillis and my family doctor are on vacation. Dr. Gillis's backup doctor is also on vacation so the whole office is closed next week. I have an appointment on Monday with my family doctor's backup who will hopefully give me a referral so that I can get into Tom Baker next week. I have so many questions for them, and I just want to get my treatment underway. Waiting is doing nothing for my nerves.

04 August, 2005

CAT Scan

My Dad drove me down to High River this morning for the CAT scan. It was pretty uneventful, but drinking that marker doesn't taste too good. The IV caused a strange warm feeling all over my body, pretty weird. I called Dr. Gillis afterwards and they have to do a surgical biopsy of the lump but they have no times available for August. I guess it's back to waiting again. I'm getting tired of waiting.

01 August, 2005

Cascade Mountain

My friend Dave and I had decided long ago to climb Cascade Mountain, and being the long weekend we set out to do it, cancer or no cancer.

Looking up at Cascade Mountain, from the town of Banff:

The view from the backside, we're going to scramble along the ridge on the right:

Me heading up the ridge:

Dave stopping for a much needed break:

The scariest part of the scramble, the rock garden:

The last push to the summit:

Looking back down to Banff from near the summit:

We're almost there!

Dave calling Laura from the top:

How's that for a view? (3000m, ~10,000ft)

I'm proud that I did it, but man am I ever sore! I think my experience will help me knowing I have plenty of strength to make it through the treatment.