The “c” word

In the last month or so I’ve learned a few new terms, and become more intimate with a few familiar ones.

There’s CBC (complete blood count), hepatosplenomegaly, neutrophils, monocytes, thrombocytopenia, anemia, and Leukemia.

I’ve also learned new variations on shock, anxiety, guilt, fear, depression, and fatigue.

I’ll cut to the chase: two doctors (my “PCP” and my oncologist) believe I have a form of cancer known as Leukemia; or more specifically, a form of Leukemia commonly known as “Hairy Cell Leukemia” – or HCL for short. It’s a chronic form of the disease that can go undetected for quite a while. It’s relatively rare, it’s exceedingly treatable, and it has a ridiculous name. Come on, who is going to take me seriously when I tell them I have “hairy cell leukemia?” It sounds like something a fourth grader would make up (and I should know).

It all started with an innocent refill on my allergy medication. My doctor went ahead and approved the refill at the pharmacy, but gave me a call asking me to come in for a visit. It seems it had been a little while, and my doctor wanted a little face time – for no reason in particular – just to see how things were going. (I take this as a sign that I have an exceptionally good doctor.)

The visit resulted in a blood test – again, for no particular reason – just to see how the old machine was running – and it turned out it wasn’t running particularly well. There was a reason, other than just “life,” that I was so tired all the time. The proof was in my blood.

I got a call-back – and not the good kind. My second appointment with my doctor began with a list of things that were good about my test. It was quickly apparent that it was a short list. Then we went through a slightly longer list of what looked funny. Finally, we went through the list of things that were a little troubling.

Now I’ve been to see the oncologist twice – this last time to have a core sample taken from my pelvis (also known as the “bone marrow biopsy”).

I find myself in this odd place. The best way I can describe it is the eye of the storm… but even that’s not quite right. Everyone seems nearly certain of the diagnosis, but no one’s ready to discuss treatment until this latest test comes back.

So I wait.

My body is in active (albeit slow) revolt.

And I wait.

Give the gift of words.