Three Weeks To A Diagnosis

I didn’t want to blog about this until everything was for sure for sure. But then, my blog is my outlet and I want to update all my friends with this news, so what the hey. If you’re reading, you’re on this this roller coaster with me. So if things change, they change.

As most of you know, I have been in the hospital for exactly three weeks now. I came in with a blood clot, which turned out to be caused by a large mass in my chest, and I haven’t been able to leave since (minus that one road trip to an out of town hospital).

From the beginning, all the doctors knew it was lymphoma. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t tell you how they knew this. But I suspect the CT scan was in line with how cancerous lymph nodes are expected to grow in the chest.

It was my family doctor who told me and my parents the news that night three weeks ago. The same one who treated me as a baby. He sat next to me and touched the centre of my chest, “The scan showed a large mass in your chest.”

I was immediately transported to another world. When people hear “cancer” they automatically think “death.” But that’s not where my mind went in that moment. I just knew that my current life as I knew it was over. I was now living the life of someone else.

My family doctor described lymphoma as two types – Hodgkins and non-Hodgkins. The former being the very treatable kind with an almost 98% survival rate (a term I hate, “success rate” is better). The other kind, well, we’d come to that hurdle when and if we needed to. It gave me a glimmer of hope. Something to hold on to in an otherwise new, unknown, bizarro universe.

I had a needle biopsy on my chest the following day. A biopsy by the way is not just a long needle. It’s more like jabbing, sometimes a little drilling, and very unnerving to see go into the caverns of your body. Days later I found out that it didn’t result in enough “good” cells to make a proper diagnosis of lymphoma type. It was still yet to be determined if I had the good cancer, or the not-so-good cancer.

The next course of action was to put a scope into the base of my throat and grab larger chunks of the tumour in my chest. A more invasive procedure that required anaesthesia and a longer recovery time. I anxiously awaited diagnosis for a few more days. Further tests showed by stomach, pelvis, brain, heart, and bone marrow were all clear. Happy days! But then I was once again told they didn’t get enough good cells to make a diagnosis. Very unhappy day.

For the third try, the doctors decided to go in and get a cancerous lymph node in my right armpit. This was the final attempt before doing the unthinkable – going into my chest and grabbing a piece of the tumour where it’s most active – around the main vein that goes into my heart.

The lymph node surgery was last Friday. They removed just one lymph node the size of a large marble. Or rather, a bouncy ball (that reference is for my co-workers). Everyone said it had to result in a diagnosis. No way a lymph node that size wouldn’t. I thought they were being falsely positive at this point. Call it a faulty personality trait, but I never try to set myself up for disappointment.

To make a long story longer, I got my diagnosis. Three long weeks of wondering if it’s that treatable kind or scarier kind my doctor talked about on that first night.

The pathologist still has to sign off on the report, and I still don’t know what kind of chemo I’m getting, but I still have to share this news. It’s Hodgkins. 

That means I can start chemo in the next couple of days and start actively working towards getting rid of this disease. I will share the information on chemo once I know it. Unfortunately this does not mean I am getting out of the hospital right away. In fact, I could be here for a few more weeks. But I won’t get into that right now.

Really, I just want to say thank you for your prayers, your good vibes, well wishes, emails, gifts, and spirit dances. I feel like this is the one hurdle of many, and I just cleared it. Now it’s time to keep running forward and I’ll keep flying over those hurdles as they come.

Me, wearing mascara for the first time since being admitted to the hospital. The smallest sense of normalcy.

Posted on July 13, 2011, in Cancer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 114 Comments.

  1. susan, a huge weight must have been lifted off your shoulders. now, let’s kick this cancer!

  2. Hi Susan,
    I am a Twitter follower and sometimes peek in at your blog. Sending you my best wishes for a speedy recovery from Australia.
    Liz N

  3. Susan, I’m glad that you finally got your diagnosis and that you can began treatment.

  4. As I was reading this, I had chills and still do!! I am so relieved that you finally have some answers. Sometimes, knowing is better than not knowing. Always praying for you!!

  5. My prayers are with you Susan. I’m glad you have a diagnosis and that your treatment can begin. Many blessings to you.

  6. greensandjeans

    It’s so surreal to be rooting for a certain kind of cancer, isn’t it? But, yay? And most importantly, now you can start kicking its ass.

  7. My thoughts are with you and I wish you a speedy recovery!

  8. It’s always better once you know what something is. Now you can start treatment and totally kick cancer’s butt. :)

  9. I’m happy you finally have a diagnosis and can start focusing your energy on getting rid of this Hodgkins crap! :) my prayers and thoughts are with you!

  10. so happy to hear you have some answers and now you can proper treatment!!

  11. Karen Strickland

    Onward and upward right?? Time to kick some cancer butt!

  12. Happy to hear you finally got your diagnosis! I’m sure you and your family are all breathing a little sigh of relief. I admire you for sharing your battle with the world. You are amazing.

  13. You look beautiful in that picture. Your eyes are so blue. I am so glad you got a diagnosis finally. Will be praying. And hoping you get some good food soon rather than the craptastic hospital food they’ve been serving ;)

  14. I’m sending ((hugs)) prayers and love from Bend, Oregon…you’ve got this! One day at a time…

  15. While I wouldn’t normally cheer for cancer- Yay Hodgkins!!
    Too bad about the extended hospital stay, but so happy you have an answer! :)

  16. OMG this gave me chills too! It doesn’t feel right to say “I’m so happy for you”, since this is a disease we’re talking about, but you know what I mean! Great news that its the more treatable one. :D Big hugs!

  17. So happy to hear this Susan! It must be such a huge relief for you.

  18. I’m so happy to hear that IF you have to have cancer, it’s a very treatable one. Hooray!! You will totally kick this :)

  19. Always rooting for you!!!! And you look beautiful in your photo. Only you could look that pretty after three weeks in a hospital!

  20. Thank goodness! We were all praying that it would be the most treatable and easy to beat kind and I’m so glad to hear that news! Stay positive and believe that you’re going to kick this thing – because we all know you will! I’ll keep praying from here in Detroit.

  21. hey susan, haven’t read your blog before but have been reading for the last week or so. very happy to hear about your less-scary diagnosis! stay strong, we’re all thinking about you! :)

  22. Susan, you look lovely in that photo! Best wishes and everything good to you. I know you will have a rapid recovery!

  23. I just discovered your blog – I think via “Edens Eats”. I commend your honesty and the strength your posts show. I am sorry you have to go through this. Cancer sucks. I am so glad you got your diagnosis and that it is the lesser of 2 evils. I am going to follow along and root for you!

  24. Thrilled for you! Time to kick cancer’s ass. Thinking of you and sending happy mascara thoughts!

  25. So, so glad for you it’s the more treatable kind! You’re going to do amazing with treatment and beat that cancer in no time! xoxo

  26. I look for your blog in my email every morning – I couldn’t read it fast enough and am very glad at the good news. Almost feels funny saying “good news” in the situation, but you know what I mean. THRILLED and now you can really kick it’s BUTT. Rooting for you 110% in Atlanta! You still look great…mascara or not!

  27. I know this is strange to write, but congrats on the diagnosis!
    (Well ,you know what I mean.So great to hear it is the “better” diagnosis and that you finally know what you are dealing with).

    Thanks for being so open in such a crazy time for you.I am guessing blogging is part of maintaining your regular life routine when everything else is topsyturvy…

    Now we are all sending you MORE awesome& warm vibes to help carry you along the next steps.When you are feeling blue remember hundreds and hundreds of folks are thinking of ya and wishing the very best for you!!

    From one of your many fans and faithful readers!

  28. PS You do look the prettiest of anyone I have seen in the hospital!
    Look out cute hospital dudes!!!

  29. That is fantastic news! Glad that you finally have a diagnosis! I have been following your blog now for over a week and praying for you! I know that you are strong and will come out even stronger on the other side of all this craziness! You look great with mascara today! :)

  30. I never thought I’d say this…but YAY for Hodgkins! I’m so glad that you’re looking at a highly treatable cancer and you’re so going to kick its ass. Just sayin ;)

  31. soooooo glad to hear this! now like i said, go eat more maple fudge. i hear that helps cure cancer ;)

  32. So beyond happy with this news. And if I looked that hot with only mascara, while in the hospital, I’d feel pretty damn rock star too.

  33. Sarah @ Long Legs Healthy Life

    Is it weird to say yay Hodgkins!? I’m so glad you finally got your diagnosis, and you can get your treatment started. Always thinking about you!

  34. That is AWESOME news Susan! The Husband and I both were like, ohhhh, it’s the good kind. We know you are going to be another person in the success rate. Well that and Jay said he knows how much you kicked his bootie in our boot camp so you can do the same here :D

    Maybe we need to send another fruit basket for some good eats once you know if you can have fruit or chocolate or what not :)

    XOXO ~ Danica and Jay

  35. One day at a time girl. Whatever happens we’ll all be here for you!

  36. Feels odd to say, that is good news, now dig deep and kick this cancers ass!

  37. I read this with baited breath and gasped with relief at the reveal of your diagnosis. I’m so happy to hear you FINALLY have the result and it’s the best one that could come out of this awful situation. Keep on swimming, Suzie Q!

  38. I’m glad you finally got your diagnosis and it’s the kind you can treat :) You’ve already made it this far, you can do anything Susan!

  39. Hi Susan,

    When I read this I was soooo… relieved. I know you have a battle ahead of you but it is all uphill from here!! I look forward to when you are out of the hospital.


  40. ….now they know how to treat and what to treat. You look beautiful. Hugs and prayers to you.

  41. Hi Susan, I just found your blog the other day, and I just wanted to say that you are such a strong and inspiring woman. I think I spent my entire lunch hour reading through pages and pages of your blog. (Your blog has become part of my daily blog reading routine)
    So happy to hear you finally found out the result, i’m sure that is definitely a bit of weight lifted off your shoulders.
    Stay strong, you can kick cancer’s butt! Thoughts are prayers are with you!
    You go girl!

  42. SO so happy to hear this!!!

  43. Best possible news! Sending all my good mojo and prayers!

  44. I’m so happy for you! To me at least, *knowing* makes all the difference in facing even the largest challenges. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t find your blog until after your cancer diagnosis–but I still don’t see you as “cancer girl.” I’ve so enjoyed catching up on old posts and following your journey. You’re seriously amazing.

    I hate cancer (not that I know anyone who likes it) but the only kind I have experience with is lymphoma, so your story touched me. My grandfather died from Non-Hodgkins (but he was in remission three times and lived into his 80s so I don’t mean to sound negative or scare you). Even my dog was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins in December 2010. We put her through chemo and they told us it would buy her 3-6 months…but we’re coming up to month 8, she is off chemo and doing great for the time being!

    I’m praying from Florida for you and your family. Keep up the great work–You’re on your way to hurdling champion! :)

  45. Glad to hear you got your diagnosis and can now start kicking cancer’s ass! Keep strong!

  46. A diagnosis at last! Your patience to get to this point has been incredible, and your upbeat attitude will see you through this!

  47. So much anticipation was built up as I was reading this post! I’m glad you finally have your diagnosis. As always, my thoughts and prayers are with you!

  48. Susan my prayers are with you. I am sending you my love, strength, good vibes, healing energy and praying for speedy and successful treatment for you!!


  49. Finally you got your diagnosis! For a minute I started to think, if she writes that she has to get another sample again……aaahhhh. But great, it was enough and now you can chart your course. Your looking wonderful by the way. Thinking of you all the time, be kind to yourself.

  50. Hi Susan,this is the first time I have really known about you, I read about you on Danica’s blog. I just wanted you to know you will be in my prayers everyday. My husband had thyroid cancer and he is has kicked it. I wanted you to know I believe prayers work and a good attitude which I see you have although I know there are up and down days and that is normal. I can imagine a little bit what you are going thru because watching my husband going thru it although he was alot stronger about it than I was. Modern Medicine is changing and growing so much that even some of his scans(just the after scans to check everything) have changed (for the better) in the last year. So I just wanted to encourage you it can be kicked and you are not alone .. I will be putting you on alot of prayer list too. It all helps. Write anytime that you would like or need to.

  51. Susan,

    I was holding my breath throughout this entire post. When I read Hodgkins I felt some relief! Is is weird to say that I am happy for you in a sad/mad kind of way?! Keep staying strong, I know you are going to show this disease whose boss!

    Praying for you in NJ!

  52. Wohoooo that’s great news!! And you look gorgeous FYI!! that’ awesome news!!

  53. Glad you finally got the diagnosis. Now you can truly start fighting it. Prayers and love coming your way! XOXO

  54. On a totally superficial level, I’m here to say that you look gorgeous. And I love your top- so clever. If you need any more dresses for your IV pole, just send them to me and I’ll let Ellie chew all of the straps off for you. She’s an expert at this sort of thing. You know how I feel about all the rest of it :-) HUGSSSS!

  55. OMG, big sigh of relief, even though I know it’s not over yet. Hugs and love from this coast! :)

  56. OMG! I haven’t visited your site in ages and I come upon this?! Susan, I’m so sorry to hear that you have been going through all of this. And I’m thrilled that you ended up with the better diagnosis of the 2. What a terrible ordeal. Is the blood clot still an issue? I’m so relieved that at some point you’re going to be able to walk away from this and move on with your life. Illness scares the $hit out of us but also gives us perspective on what truly matters in life. I wish you all the best in your recovery. Tania xo

    • Yes, the blood clot is still a huge issue! The cancer is coagulating my blood, so the doctors have to keep a close eye on me and my dosage of blood thinners because I’m at high risk for more blood clots, which can be potentially fatal in themselves. It’s the main reason why I’m still in the hospital, and why I’m likely to be in hospital for a few more weeks :(

  57. As a cancer survivor myself, never give up! Stay positive! You can beat this. You remain in my prayers.

  58. That’s great news and I’m so happy that you now have a clear path ahead of you. Here’s to a quick recovery and hoping that you can get out of that hospital and finally be able to eat some good food again!

  59. I am sitting here, bawling like a baby! Amen, hallelujah! He is SOOOO good! The prayers will keep coming, prayers for your recovery and prayers of thanks.

    You look absolutely beautiful.

  60. Hooray for Hodgkins! Relatively speaking, you know, but good news is good news.

    Also, you look gorgeous in that picture. Do you at least have any hot doctors? ;)

  61. So glad to hear you finally got a diagnosis! I’ve been amazed and inspired by your patience, positive attitude, and honesty throughout this process. Will continue to send good thoughts and vibes your way!!

  62. I’m relieved for you that you at least have a diagnosis, something solid and a plan in place to get it OUT of your body. You continue to stun me with your strength and poise. Seriously amazing.

  63. Hi Susan, I’m a regular reader but haven’t commented before. Had to just step up and say I’m sending you my best wishes for a speedy recovery!!! Thoughts and best wishes from me in Vancouver!

  64. I just ran across your blog for the first time today. I am not even sure how I got here but I do know there is a reason for everything. This diagnosis is such a positive thing. Hodgkin’s is SO treatable! My mom was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s in her late 20’s. All treatment was experimental at the time. She is now in her late 70’s and healthy as a horse! Be strong, rent silly movies (laughter helps) and have someone sneak in food! You can do this!

  65. Thank god! I’ve thought of you every day lately. I am so glad that you finally have a diagnosis and that it’s a very treatable form.

    And can I just say how beautiful you look? Wow! Your positivity continues to amaze me.

    Stay strong girl. XO

  66. YAY! I am so glad you have the readily treatable kind (well, if you have to have any type of cancer at all). Wishing you good luck!

  67. I know you must feel a sense of relief Susan. 3 weeks is a long time to wait when you’re dealing with cancer. Please know that many of us have been waiting right along with you, squeezing your hand from afar. Much love to you and your beautiful self. :)

  68. I’m rooting for you Susan!! Thank you for sharing, I’m glad you finally got the news!

  69. Finally a diagnosis! Now you can kick cancers ass!! :D Hugs!

  70. Hi! I just found your blog a couple days ago via Greek Yogurt and Apple Slices and just want to say what a huge inspiration you are! My ex’s best friend was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s when he was 25 as well — that was two years ago, and he has since fully recovered. He even passed the bar to become a lawyer two months after his diagnosis. Just wanted to share a positive outcome with you!

  71. Susan, I have been following your journey for a few weeks now (I found you through Karen, a childhood classmate of mine!), and I’m sorry it took me so long to send you my well-wishes. I had a good laugh at your Crocs the other day. Total fashion crime. ;)

    I scrolled through this post holding my breath, praying (and I’m not religious) that I would see good news at the bottom. My first thought at seeing “Hodgkins” was “oh thank GOD.” Somehow, “oh thank random biology” didn’t have the same ring.

    Thank you for sharing your tough time with such grace and humour. Sending you lots of good vibes from Toronto.

  72. pinkpenguin84Erin

    I just have to say–couldn’t be happier for you, your family, and the blog community that has supported you, and will continue to support you, through your ups and downs. Yay!

  73. Yay for a higher “success rate”! How relieved you must be. And anxious to get on with treatment I’ll bet.

    Love to you!

  74. Yay, I’m so glad you got your diagnosis- and that it’s the lesser of the two evils! All those good vibes are working! :)

  75. Thank you for that diagnosis! And I have to say that you really do look beautiful in that photo. :D

  76. Hi, I am new here but I have looked at your story and it really touched me.
    My mother was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer 7 years ago, and she healed herself naturally. It is possible, All other options are suppressed and it is just not talked about because the cancer industry is such a huge money racket. I hate to be so blunt but in most cases it is the chemo & radiation that kills the patient, and not the cancer. I know from personal experience due to unnecessary close friends and relatives deaths in the past.

    There are quite a few other options to check out that will lead you on a path to health.
    A couple of awesome documentaries regarding healing cancer is “The Beautiful Truth” and “Dying to have Known”…also a book that my mother read that she is sure helped her is called “Cancer, Step Outside the Box by Ty Bollinger”. There are other options, the mainstream medical doctors are only taught to promote their cancer drugs and it is controversial to do other than what they tell you. I personally think life is more precious than to leave it to hands of the doctors. I always think it is best to try a more natural route first. Another awesome healer is the essential oil “Frankincense”…Look it up!! It has helped so many people…as long as it’s a high quality oil like Young Living,etc :)
    It’s amazing that our planet has given us sooo many wonderful natural healing possibilities!

    I just wanted to share some other options for you, whether or not what route you take…Be sure to Empower Yourself. Knowledge is Power. :0)

  77. So glad to hear you got your diagnosis & that you’ll be able to start chemo soon. Hugs.

  78. Susan, I just found your blog (and your story) on Cotter Crunch. It must be a relief to have a diagnosis. You seem incredibly strong and definitely sound like a fighter. Get outta here cancer!!! You are in my prayers…I am pulling for you–now and always–but especially now as you begin your treatment!

  79. Hi Susan,

    I only started reading your blog a short time before you went into the hospital, but I have been following your journey closely these last few weeks, and I felt compelled to comment upon reading your diagnosis. I am so relieved that you got the more positive of the two outcomes, and I want you to know that the way you have been handling this with such courage and grace is incredible. I can’t pretend for a moment to know what you are going through, but I believe that just by being alive and being human we are all connected.. and in that spirit, I wish you the very best as you continue this journey. Your positive, courageous attitude is going to help you kick this. There are so many people, many who you don’t know, pulling for you and sending you light and love every day. I hope this continues to give you some encourgament in the weeks to come.

    I’m sure you’ve been sent many things to read and look over, but wasn’t sure if you were aware of the organization StandUp2Cancer.

    One of my friends from high school works for them, and they do some great things. Just wanted to share.

    All best wishes

  80. Great news Susan. So glad you finally have your diagnosis, and can begin your treatment. We will keep rooting for you!

  81. Susan-

    I’m so glad that you got your diagnosis. You’ve been much in our thoughts and in our prayers – and you will continue to be. Let the battle begin! We’ll be pulling and praying for you all the way!

  82. I’m really happy to hear the news, Susan!! I’m really, really really reeeeally happy :D There is still a tough road ahead of you, but life after that must look very hopeful. Your smile is saying you are!

  83. you kick that cancer’s ass girl! xo

  84. hey – ah! this is good. now we know exactly what we are dealing with – time to kick some serious cancer behind.

    Thinking of you as always! Lots of prayers and positive thoughts from Ottawa. Stay strong girl!

  85. It’s a relief to know your unofficial diagnosis! Hodgkin’s is much more manageable! I can’t wait for the day that you can say you kicked cancer in the butt!

  86. Thoughts and prayers from Alabama. Glad you finally got a diagnosis, now put on your armor and kick it in the tail.

  87. This post gave me chills! So, so happy to hear the news, Susan.

  88. That is such a relief to finally have a diagnosis and move forward. I know you will kick this to curb, Susan. Sending you lots of hugs and best wishes!

  89. So glad you got at least some answers you’ve been waiting for. Now to get moving full speed ahead to recovery!

  90. You look beautiful. I said an extra prayer for you at Mass last weekend. My very good friend had the same diagnosis 5 years ago and he is as healthly as a horse today. Good luck and I will keep you in my prayers.

  91. Congrats my dear. Now you may start attacking that monster! We are here for you, and I know you will get through this! :)

  92. I’m glad you finally got a diagnosis. I check in on you every day. Stay strong!

  93. :) This made me happy. I have been thinking about you lots. You look great in that picture. I always feel ten times better when I have mascara on for whatever reason. I wore it when I had surgery even!

    • I look really different without make-up on – like I’m really tired or have been crying or something. So as soon as I stopped wearing mascara in the hospital, everyone kept telling me I didn’t look well. Now they tell me I’m looking much better rested :P

  94. Thank you for updating us! You can do this and you are in my prayers! xoxo

  95. So glad you finally got some answer, and beyond happy that it is Hodgkins!

  96. Congrats on finally finding out…praying for you; I cant imagine what those moments would be like waiting to hear then only to be let down again and again. But praise God you received some semblance of hope.

  97. YAYAYAYAYAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! :D So happy, Sus! And will you please keep me in the loop via text while I am gone–I may not have internet at the cabin we are going to. Not sure yet. But I should have phone service! I love love love love you to the moon.

  98. Darlin, I’m so sorry about what you’ve had to go through. I’m so glad the diagnosis is the best one and you can now get moving with that treatment. I went through two months of hell over the holidays trying to figure out if I had breast cancer (I don’t)…. and that’s not the first time. I felt like I dodged a bullet and am so grateful to be free of that hell. Anyway, I’m thinking of you beautiful lady.

  99. YAY! I’m so glad you’ve finally got some good news! Your eyes are beautiful with and without mascara. All the best xxx

  100. Yay! I’m so happyfor you that you were able to finally get a diagnosis and start moving forward in treaent. You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

  101. Yeah!!!!! It makes me feel weird to be cheering a cancer diagnosis but Hodgkin’s is so much better. I also was happy when that was also what my mom was diagnosed with. I’m sure it is such a relief to finally have a diagnosis. With my mom I know having a plan of action helped her so much with her mood. From the time of when she was told she had cancer until they had a plan was really rough. You look so great too Susan, you look happy :)

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