October 28, 2007

Non Hodgkins Lymphoma

A short time after Mother's Day, my Mom was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma(NHL). I wanted everyone to know a little bit about this disease. I realize this is Breast Cancer Awareness month but there are so many other cancers out there that are killing millions of people. I think we should be aware of all of them. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is cancer that begins in the lymphatic system, which is part of the body's immune system. The immune system fights infections and other diseases. In the lymphatic system, a network of lymph vessels carries clear fluid called lymph. Lymph vessels lead to small, round organs called lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are filled with lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). The lymph nodes trap and remove bacteria or other harmful substances that may be in the lymph. Groups of lymph nodes are found in the neck, underarms, chest, abdomen, and groin. Other parts of the lymphatic system include the tonsils, spleen, and thymus. Lymphatic tissue is also found in other parts of the body including the stomach, skin, and small intestine. There are many types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. All types of lymphoma begin in cells of the lymphatic system. Normally, cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old, they die, and new cells take their place. Sometimes this process goes wrong. New cells form when the body does not need them, and old cells do not die when they should. These extra cells can form a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor. The symptoms of this disease are as follows:

Swollen, painless lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin
Unexplained weight loss
Fever
Soaking night sweats
Coughing, trouble breathing, or chest pain
Weakness and tiredness that don't go away
Pain, swelling, or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen

Most often, these symptoms are not due to cancer. Infections or other health problems may also cause these symptoms. Anyone with symptoms that do not go away within 2 weeks should see a doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated. My mothers CA125 blood test came back really high, which is the a test for ovarian cancer. That's what we thought she had, however, the CT scan showed us exactly what it was. I have no idea why the test for ovarian cancer was elevated except for the fact that her system was completely off because of the NHL. Unfortunately, a CT is the only way to accurately diagnose this type of cancer. Without symptoms, there is no need for a person to get a CT scan. She was experiencing alot of bloating and fatigue. My mother is always doing something but the fact that she felt like doing absolutely nothing because she was so exhausted was one of the main reason she sought help. By the time they diagnosed it, she was a stage 4. I am happy to say that she completed her last chemo treatment on Friday and the doctor said she is in complete remission. She is only 59 years old. Far too young for someone to lose their life. I just want people to be aware of their bodies. If something doesn't feel right, go and see a doctor. I know it may not be the most pleasant thing a person can do but it just might save your life. Here are a couple resources for information regarding NHL:

Telephone (1-800-4-CANCER): Information Specialists at NCI's (National Cancer Institute) Cancer Information Service can answer your questions about cancer. They also can send NCI booklets, fact sheets, and other materials.

http://www.cancer.gov/: You can use NCI's Web site to find a wide range of up-to-date information. People in the United States and its territories may use this Web site to order printed copies. This Web site also explains how people outside the United States can mail or fax their requests for NCI booklets.

The American Cancer Society

I hope this information helps anyone that is going thru a crisis or has a loved one with NHL.

4 comments:

Mango Marie said...

Good news for your mom! Thank you for the eye-opener...

katherine. said...

I'm sending up a prayer for your Mama's healing...and quick recovery from the chemo...its tough when your Mama is sick..so prayers for you as well!

baby~amore' said...

thanks for sharing this Lori ...praying your mom has a full recovery and regains her former healthy self.
My Mum just turned 60 and that is far too young. My Dad passed away from a side effect of successful bone marrow transplant for his Leukemia 2 yrs ago.

The Gal Herself said...

I am soooo happy to hear your mom is doing well! During the summer of 06, my mother was treated for both skin cancer and COPD and I was frantic, so I can imagine what you've been going through.

And thank you for printing the symptoms and the links. Some cancers we hear about all the time, and others (like this) just don't seem as newsworthy and that's not right.