I figured it was time to push a quick update out there on how things have been going with me healthwise in case anyone was wondering if I was even still alive or anything. I am. Alive, that is. Though if I had to give this whole ordeal a review I’mma go with zero stars for cancer. If you are thinking of trying out a disease, maybe go with the flu or something. This one’s not great.

There is always a lot of care to avoid saying anything with 100% certainty when it comes to this disease, but it does look like the end is in sight. I still have the most aggressive part of my treatment coming up in a bit which should finish mid July, then I will need to recover from that. After that though I should be able to throw myself back into work with everything I have.
So that’s the main takeaway here if you are waiting for more stories and arts, starting mid July I will be getting back into it at an increasing rate. But if you are curious about the whole journey or are one of the people I know in real life that I’ve been torturing by not telling anything, read on and I’ll give you a recap of it all.

I was diagnosed last July with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma but in hindsight there where a cavalcade of warning signs that I never thought to notice leading up to it.
As it was explained to me, the way this particular disease works is that since it starts in the spleen and works it’s way out to where it would be noticed, it can be hanging about for a long time as long as your body can compensate by just burning through more and more stamina. As it turns out for me, stamina is basically my only stat worth a damn.
This meant that according to the doctors, I could have had it growing for as long as ten years before it finally got to the end stages and started kicking me in the bone marrow, at which point I started getting sick allllll the time. Constantly exhausted, losing weight like crazy and just generally getting weaker.

So I ended up quitting my job, moving back to NZ and starting treatment to try and stick around a little longer.
My initial PET-CT scan was frankly a little scary. My spleen had grown to twice its normal size from all the tumours in it as well as maybe 20 spots around the rest of my torso and a good deal of my bones lighting up like a Christmas tree. But after a bunch of biopsies and tests they changed their mind on the diagnoses from “non-Hodgkin’s” to “grey area” lymphoma, and changed the survivability estimate from 20% to “maybe more like 80%?” and finally to “I don’t want to say 100% but I think I can get this one” which was encouraging.
So I started chemo. And it was… nyeah.

I mean, chemo is thoroughly unpleasant, but still better than how I felt before I started treatment.

So I did that, it was what it was. Slowly started gaining weight back thanks to the steroids and generally looking healthier. Which had the annoying effect of people starting to assume that I was fine now because I don’t look like the cancer people in the movies but whatever.

Then in march I had a follow up scan to see if the chemo worked. And it kinda did but not really. Bummer. So they switched me to a stronger kind of chemo that has me in the hospital more often than not, which is what I’ve been doing since.
Then a few weeks ago they did another scan to see what was up and this time we got no hot spots and everyone was very optimistic. This apparently doesn’t mean I can stop though cause they want to make for real sure it’s gone. Which leads us to the final stage…

Just before my latest round of chemo I spent a few days getting my blood sucked out, run through a machine to scoop out my stem cells then pumped back into my neck. The plan with these cells is to hang on to them for a bit so they can use them to restart me after my last attempt at chemo.
This last one is going to be a doozy as I understand it. They are going to have me locked up in a HEPA suite for three weeks while they go ham wild with stronger drugs until there is nothing left of either the disease or like, my bone marrow. Then they shove the stem cells back in so they can rebuild errything and if all goes well I can just go about my life again.

So, yeah. That’s pretty much how my past year has been and what I’m about to do. Hopefully it goes well and I can move on from this all.
-Lee

Cancer update