lump in the road
May 14, 2011
On May 4, 2011, I had no idea that going to the post office was going to change my life. The post office? Well, the post office is in the same building as the health clinic, in which I had no intentions of visiting, but when I saw a flyer for free flu shots at the clinic I figured “might as well stop by and get this swollen lymph node in my neck checked out real quick since exams are over and there probably isn’t a wait.” I didn’t have any other plans that day so I stopped in and told them my situation. My lymph node just above my right collar-bone had been swollen for about 6 months…and I know your thinking “Cheslie! Why didn’t you go sooner!” but I had gone in January and the doctor didn’t seem to be too concerned with the size of the gland and wrote it off as being inflamed due to skin allergies. And with my busy, carefree life and Elevation on my mind at all times, I didn’t really notice that much of a change in the size of my lump.
So I asked for a different doctor this time. I couldn’t have been blessed with a sweeter, more caring doctor to start on the mystery in my neck. Dr. McKay seemed very concerned with the swollen gland, so she ordered blood work and chest x-rays, and suggested a fine needle biopsy in the next couple of weeks. I went home a little worried, but my Elevation core team meeting that night took it off my mind. Plus, my next appointment wasn’t for another 2 weeks…
The next morning I woke up to my phone buzzing. Sleepily I answered and to my surprise I heard “Hi, this is Martha McKay from the ASU Health Clinic”. Half asleep I said ” Hi, Martha” and then I felt bad for not saying ‘Dr. McKay’. She told me she wanted to go over the results of my chest x-rays in person. The rule of thumb with doctors is no news is good news; in person is not good news. I knew what in person meant, so I called my mom and told her I had to go discuss the results in person, and I could tell she knew what that meant too.
As I walked to the clinic, I prayed all the way the way there. “Please don’t let it be the worst thing possible” which in my head was the c-word….if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you will catch on soon. If it helps, it rhymes with ‘dancer’. I just don’t like using it, it’s such a negative word because when I hear it I don’t think what it scientifically means, but of all the terrible things that follow it.
Anyway, just like my gut feeling, she told me that I probably had lymphoma and that they found more swollen masses in my upper chest. I couldn’t help but break down. Receiving the news by myself, I immediately turned to Dr. McKay for comfort and asked if I could hug her, and she said of course. Embracing this sweet stranger, life didn’t feel real. This wasn’t happening to me. My life was perfect with Elevation and my summer was planned out to continue to help build the church. I was thinking ” I’ve already had my fair share of hardships, life just got good…do I really need this one now?”
I became completely transparent in front of Dr. Mckay who I had only known for one day. I had all these questions and thoughts going through my head and coming straight out my mouth. How am I going to tell my Mom? How am I going to tell my boyfriend? I’m supposed to go to the beach this weekend. Am I not going to be able to go anymore? I don’t have any money. I’m only twenty years old. (that one went through my head alot)
When I was able to breathe again I called my mom. She already knew what I was going to say. I didn’t tell her anything, I just said “they want me to get that needle biopsy sooner than in two weeks–as in tomorrow.” and she was like “ok.” Then I said “so…want to drive up here?” and she said “yep”. And that was all. She was at my apartment 7 hours later. It’s amazing how moms just know.
Later that day I met with another doctor, she told me the same thing about the lymphoma. I was a little more prepared this time with my roommate by my side and already having heard it once that day. The next day my mom went with me to get CT scans.
Then I went to the beach. While I enjoyed a long, refreshing beach trip in Hilton Head Island and became a fiance!!!!!, Super Mom did her thing and got me 3 appointments at Vanderbilt Hospital for a biopsy, blood work, and meeting with an oncologist, so I would have the best treatment at the best hospital. Thus, I packed all my summer clothes and drove back to TN not having any idea of how long I would be staying.
The oncologist told me that he strongly believed I have lymphoma. Shocker! Now its a waiting game to find out what type and confirm the diagnosis. Monday morning I am meeting a surgeon, and Friday I have to get PET scans and a bone marrow biopsy.
Just so you know, my blogs won’t be this long every time. I just had to catch you up from the last 10 days. And in case you are wondering, I don’t feel sick at all. I feel just fine. I really appreciate your concern for me and all of your prayers. I will continue to trust and find my strength in the Lord through this time in my life. I may not be helping launch a church in Boone right now, but I know that God is still using me for His purpose.
IN A NUTSHELL
In case you don’t have time or just plain don’t feel like reading the whole thing, I’ll post the main points under my blogs.
- I’ve had a swollen lymph node in my neck, just above my right collar bone for about 6 months
- Chest x-rays revealed more swollen masses in my upper chest near my heart and lungs
- Multiple doctors strongly suspect lymphoma, but it has not been confirmed yet
- I am continuing to see doctors and undergo tests while waiting for results and a final diagnosis
- I feel well, I am optimistic, and I know God’s will is still perfect no matter what I have to endure. I have been blessed with an amazing support system of my family and friends who are all praying for me
- Oh yeah, and I just got engaged to my best friend and boyfriend of 4 years last week!