The "What" that is my Uncle’s Cancer

My Uncle Mike (aka Sparky) has Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Even I’m often confused by exactly what that means or what is going on.  So, since I’ve been writing so much about what’s going on and the upcoming Bone Marrow (Stem Cell) transplant (for which my Mom is donating)… I’ve decided to include some definitions at the bottom of this post.

I just want to mention that even though I have focused mainly on the main cause for concern, he also has some other issues.  He has some blood clots that they are constantly monitoring.  My Uncle is in a constant fog of medication and the trauma of the entire situation.  He comes out of his tests drained and exhausted. 

He also has lung cancer.  They cannot address the lung cancer until they get rid of the Lymphoma.  He has a uphill road ahead of him.  But he has a family full of people that will carry him whenever he needs it, and walk by his side when he has the strength.

I can’t imagine everything he has been going through.  Mentally and emotionally. He has a wonderful wife and three boys.  Some days I’m sure it doesn’t seem worth the fight.  Other days I’m sure he thinks of a simple memory that will pick him up and carry him with ferocity through his day.

He is inspiring and a true fighter.  He has always been a hard worker, and this battle is no exception.

I am inspired daily by my entire families efforts to stay positive and supportive throughout this process.  Something like this, really pulls a family together… or at least it has for us.  

My Mom.  
I couldn’t be more proud of my Mom in all this.  She is stepping up and donating a part of her to her brother.  He is also a part of her.  Perhaps not physically, but in the truest way a brother and sister can be that have shared so much life and history together.  I know that no matter what goes through my Mom’s head… she will be strong for my Uncle.  I am so happy to know that I will be there for the Bone Marrow Transplant, so I can be strong for her.  It’s what being a family is about.  You should never have to carry the burden alone.   

Anyways, that’s my two cents on the matter for the day.

So, here is some information that I looked up for myself, and thought I’d share.

Definition:
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, also called non-Hodgkin lymphoma, is cancer that originates in your lymphatic system, the disease-fighting network spread throughout your body. In non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, tumors develop from lymphocytes — a type of white blood cell.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more common than the other general type of lymphoma — Hodgkin’s disease.
Many different subtypes of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma exist. The most common non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma subtypes include diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma

Stages:
Stage I: The cancer is found only in one lymph node group or in a single organ.
Stage II: The cancer involves more than one lymph node group on the same side of (above or below) the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscle that lies between the chest and the abdomen. Stage II also refers to cancer that has spread to a local organ outside the lymph system. This is referred to as “extranodal” disease and is noted by an “E” following the stage. For example, a stage II lymphoma that has extended into the lungs from a local involved node would be referred to as stage IIE.5
Stage III: The cancer involves lymph node groups above and below the diaphragm. For example, there may be swollen lymph nodes under the arm and in the abdomen.
Stage IV: The cancer has spread beyond the lymph system to an organ that is not next to an involved lymph node or to the liver, brain, or bone marrow.

Chemotherapy: (my uncle will be having more chemo between now and the stem cell transplant)
Chemotherapy is drug treatment — given orally or by injection — that kills cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs can be given alone, in combination with other chemotherapy drugs or combined with other treatments.

Stem cell transplant: (currently scheduled for 1/28/11)
A stem cell transplant is a procedure that allows you to receive higher doses of chemotherapy or radiation with the goal of killing the lymphoma cells that may not be killed with standard doses. Before a stem cell transplant, healthy stem cells — those capable of producing new blood cells — are taken from your blood or bone marrow and frozen. These healthy stem cells can also come from a related or unrelated donor. After you undergo very high doses of chemotherapy to kill the lymphoma, the healthy stem cells are thawed and injected into your body, where they will form a healthy new immune system.




My Mom, Uncle Mike and Aunt Deb
The 3 Amigos!
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One thought on “The "What" that is my Uncle’s Cancer

  1. This is awesome and inspiring Ingrid! I will pray for your family during this trial. You have a command of the English language (n writing) that equals that of any famous Author. Love and miss you, Vickie

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