Friday, September 18, 2009

Grade 3, Stage 2 (for now)

We're learning a whole new language of cancer and lymphoma, and added to our vocabulary today. We met Joe's oncologist, Dr. Maloney, this afternoon, and now have a charted cancer-path.

[Small aside: I admit to a small crush on Joe's doctor, 1992 graduate of Marin Catholic who grew up in Fairfax. But that's natural: he had me the moment he produced hand-outs for us (i.e., me) to take home and read.]

Cutting to the chase: Joe starts chemo next Wednesday, and will have 6 courses 21 days apart. This means he'll be done in early January 2010.

Some details about The Potato: Joe's follicular lymphoma is Grade 3, meaning that it's aggressive. It's currently classified as a Stage 2, which means that it is affecting more than one lymph node and is on only one side of the diaphragm (below his diaphragm in Joe's case). But as we get more information, the staging may change. The PET scan on Monday will tell us if it's more widespread (Stage 3, above *and* below the diaphragm), and the bone marrow biopsy that Joe had this afternoon will tell us if it's in the bones (Stage 4). NO MATTER WHAT the course of treatment is the same: chemo. And the chemo is curative. Such good news.

I was delighted to be shown the CT scan. Completely amazing to see Joe on the inside and to get a visual on the Potato. I do regret not seeing the bone marrow biopsy performed; Joe made the mistake of asking to see the tools used after the procedure. I think he won't soon forget.

Joe's got absolutely everything going for him: he's young, he's strong, he has a great attitude, and he will receive excellent care. Of course and as usual, one of the chemo nurses is someone Joe knows, a former client who remains delighted with the vanity that Joe made her. As we were leaving, she said if we needed anything at all, had any questions, to please call her even at home. That was the only moment today that I cried - people's utter sweetness in the face of this is profound.

It's going to be OK, it's going to be more than OK. We are so relieved.

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