Raindrops and Sunbeams

Light at the end of the tunnel…

Posted on: November 12, 2010

Almost there! And I can see that light…..just dancing with sunbeams!

Earlier, I did have another trip to Richmond that I didn’t blog about. It just seemed to me that getting the bone marrow biopsy was not a fun thing, there was not much I could put down in words that would not have been a ‘downer’ – so I decided to just let it go. Suffice it to say – it was necessary to have it done….and it is.

Movin’ right along…. Hit the road early for Richmond this past Tuesday….this was to be a big day! I was hoping to at last get my second opinion on my original diagnosis (it is very important to me to have an accurate one….), and the results of the bone marrow biopsy….and not the least, the ‘trial run’ of my Zevalin treatment.

Got to the hospital right on time….knew the way there by heart now….and to get our parking ticket (they have valet parking!) validated so it costs us nothing. Got ushered into the lab room for my blood to be drawn, and vitals checked. I was surprised to note my blood pressure was 130 over 65…..which is sky-high for me. Guess I was a tad nervous about the coming hours…

Then off to the ‘infusion’ room. Basically a huge room full of recliners for those receiving treatment and those torturous little office chairs that are for the one accompanying them. I always feel so badly that my wonderful husband is forced into that small hard chair for so many hours, while I’m kicked back in this plush recliner! He bears it all with a smile, tho……what an amazing guy! While we waited for the labs to be processed, the doctor managing my case came down to talk….and had my second opinion paperwork in hand.

He prefaced it by saying he had checked, and all this paperwork had been faxed to my local oncologist….hmmmm…..and I never heard a word about it.  He stated that even with a second look, they narrowed it down to two possibilities….which is still way more specific than the umbrella ‘b-cell lymphoma’ that I’ve had all this time. So at last….a label…..either splenic and/or marginal zone lymphoma…..not the most common type out there, which had a lot to do with how difficult it was to pin down. This was exactly what he had suspected just from reading about my case….but it meant much to me to have the pathologist’s confirmation of his thoughts. Ok! Now I know….and it will now be figured into everything that comes down the pike after  He also gave me a recommendation for a new local oncologist….. got that ball rolling soon as I got home..

The labs came back ok….but just as an ‘in case’ – they had me sign to ok getting a blood transfusion, should that become necessary. Hopefully, I would not, but they wanted the ok ahead of time in order to save time. No problem there…..and then the doctor was off to do his work for the day….and my infusion of Rituxan was ready for me. They gave me the pre-meds – basically the ahead-of-time meds to minimize any reactions that I might have later on…..comforting to know that they are on the job, helping my body to accept the Rituxan.

The Rituxan is amazing stuff….it is targeted monoclonal antibody that only goes after the B-cells in the body….it recognizes them as the ‘bad guys’ and lets your body know that….calling in the body’s own defense system to kill them off and get rid of them. But Zevalin….adds another step to this….it adds a radioactive isotope to the Rituxan that targets a specific antigen…..and kills all the cells in the immediate vicinity of the ‘bad guys’ – very much like a ‘smart bomb’ — sometimes science is almost science-fiction come true, and it is fascinating to me that this is what will put me into “durable” remission…..talking years here….yay!  The Rituxan went in very slowly – we were all aware that the first time I had this, I did have a bad reaction…..but after we had passed the one hour mark, I knew it would be clear sailing…and it was!

By 3:00 the Rituxan was about done….and now came step two….the ‘imaging’ dose of I-111. This would show in the coming gamma scan if the radioactive bits were being distributed all over the body…..so that when I got the ‘therapeutic’ dose of the ‘real’ isotope, we’d all know it was going where it was needed…..all over. I got moved to a room by myself  for this step….the doctor explaining again that I was not going to be giving off any radiation to those around me than they would receive from the environment….good to know! He had a double syringe to do this….and a timer! It would take 15 minutes of alternating…..a little bit of the isotope….then switch….a little bit of Rituxan….switch back…a little bit of the isotope….and so on. Amazing how long 15 minutes can seem to be when one is waiting for it….. was interesting to see the doc…establishing this rhythm to giving this treatment.

After this…..one more thing to go…..a gamma scan. We arrived down several floors in the hospital to the Nuclear medicine department for this….another of those really skinny hard beds to lay on….but wonderful heated blanket to wrap up in (boy, that felt GOOD!), and directly over my head was a big square camera…..and I assume under me was another….as there were two screens on the edge…giving views 180 degrees different. Then they lowered that camera (after asking if I were claustrophobic) right down to almost touching my nose! That is really getting ‘up close and personal!’ Then all I had to do was be still, as it took the camera 25 minutes to move down my entire body. Once it cleared my head, I could watch the screens and see what the camera saw…..and it was like my body was this invisible container full of these brightly lit bits….like neon snow!  I am totally amazed at the science that discovered how to do all this… After the scan, I had to wait just a moment for the doctor to confirm the scan was ok…..he came in to say….yes it was….the isotope went all over just as it should….and we were a ‘go’ for the real thing next Tuesday!!

Whew…..quite the long day in Richmond….got there around 9:30am….and left just after 5:00pm….rush hour gave us the perfect excuse to stop at Cracker Barrel to have a celebratory dinner! Other than being a tad tired, I was feeling good…..and looking forward to next week.  So THIS day was just chock full of sunbeams……lighting up that tunnel’s end…..next Tuesday!! I am in awe of just how awesome our God is….!

More next week…..


1 Response to "Light at the end of the tunnel…"

YAY!! Half the battle is attitude and yours is allllllll SUNBEAMS!

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