The Real Horror
The Antietam Soldier

Decisions, Decisions



I had my regularly-scheduled bloodwork and CT scans, which keep an eye on my small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL). The bloodwork came back fine -- my absolute lymphs are slightly high, but that's it. Good to go for bloodwork! My CT scans (neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis) show that my zillions of enlarged lymph nodes haven't gotten bigger and are unchanged when compared to my previous CT scans. Yay scans!


I'm having multiple hot flashes per day. I had one during my appointment this morning! My oncologist Dr. S calls them "day sweats" as opposed to night sweats. Sweat doesn't pour off me, but I get awfully hot and damp. When Dr. S examined my neck lymph nodes, she put her nice cool hands on my neck and said, "You're burning up!" Also, I'm losing weight without even trying. Normally I'd be quite delighted with this, whoop-de-do! But not this time.


The upshot of all of this is that Dr. S says it's time to consider treatment. I don't have to start it now, but I can if I want to. If I don't start it now and stick with the "watchful waiting" routine, I will likely need to start treatment within a year. There are three treatments that Dr. S suggests:

  • Rituxin, which is a monoclonal antibody. It's an infusion done on the regular for several weeks.
  • Bendamustine (which I have renamed Bustamovestine) plus Rituxin. Bustamovestine is chemo, so that, too, is an infusion.
  • A pill (somethingsomethingumab) that I'd have to take once a day for the rest of my life.

Of course, there are side effects, but hair loss is not one of them. Then again, nausea, vomiting, and other unpleasant things are. Dr. S seems to favor Bustamovestine and Rituxin as the most effective. Once the regimen is complete, the cancerous lymph nodes are gone, gone, gone -- for awhile. "Awhile" means years, mostly. However, SLL is a bad son of a bitch - you can run him off, but he always comes sniffing around again.

Luckily, I have time to think about this; however, if I put it off until next year, I'll have to pay a lot more in deductible and co-insurance because of the new year in health insurance. If I start this year, I won't have to pay anything because I've already met my deductible and out-of-pocket maximum. Personally, I think that's a hell of reason to decide to have chemotherapy, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a factor. (SINGLE PAYER ALREADY!)

And that's your scary post of the day.