Update on Matt (April)

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Photo taken back in February, before we just stayed home and kept it allll casual alll the time. 
A lot of you who follow my facebook group have been asking me for an update on how Matt has been doing. I am happy to report that he is doing really well (he's outside playing basketball in the driveway right now while I write this.) It has been a long, strange year.

For anyone who has not read my previous posts, in June of 2019 Matt was diagnosed with Classical Hodgkin's Lymphoma – This was utterly out of the blue and made for one of the worst weeks of our lives. You can read about it here. You can see from his early scan in my follow up post here. Below is Matt's most recent scan, which was taken after 6 months of chemotherapy, on December 9th 2019.

See that tiny orange-ish ball that looks like a miniture sun? That is what remained of the 'hot' (or "live") part of the cancer in December. Surrounding it is a shell of 'dead' cancer. His oncologists decided that it was best for him to have 17 treatments of radiation in January, to make sure the cancer wouldn't regrow. Every week day for 3.5 weeks he headed in for a quick, targeted radiation treatment.

For anyone reading this who might be starting the process with a lymphoma now, or have a loved one starting the process, the chemo was not actually as bad as he had feared. Yes, it was debilitating and he lost his hair and eyebrows. Yes, he was exhausted and slept through many days and had to stay in the house to keep away from germs (which I'm sure most of you can relate to at this point!) And he had some degree of unpleasant side effects like neuropathy (numbness in his hands and feet). However, he only had a little bit of nausea and maintained a good appetite. He says the worst part was that first week, especially the biopsy surgery/recovery, which was quite painful. The radiation didn't have much of a noticeable physical effect aside from some fatigue. Interesting fact we didn't realize about radiation (at least on the chest, for this type of tumor.) You have to get tattooed for it! Yes, in order to get the radiation aimed at exactly the right spot, Matt had to have several little dots permanently tattooed on his body. They look like dark freckles.

Radiation takes a while to work, so we have not yet had Matt's final scans, but the docs are very optimistic that the cancer will be all gone. We are supposed to go back later this month, but his appointments may be pushed back due to Covid-19. Once he has a clear scan, he can schedule surgery to have his port removed. Then he will go back for scans often for the next few years, to make sure the cancer stays gone.

Once Matt was adequately recovered from his radiation treatments, he headed back to work - but not for long! At the beginning of March, Matt had jury duty that he had postponed during his treatment. He went in expecting to be sent home the same day, but he was instead chosen to serve as a juror on a first degree murder trial! Matt wanted to do his best as a juror and was excited to serve, but mid-trial, the state declared a mistrial due to Covid-19, and everyone was sent home.

Matt then went back to work for a couple of weeks... until he was laid off. Please do not feel sorry for him though! He feels extremely lucky to have finished chemo before the pandemic (he is no longer immunocompromised) and he's actually very excited to be stay-at-home-dadding-it for a while, and helping out more on our facebook page and group. (Please spread the word to friends about our facebook group and follow us on Instagram here. )

Huge thanks to Matt's doctors and nurses! Also to all of you who sent nice messages, and shared your stories of having been through this yourselves, or having a partner/sibling/parent go through it.


More information about Hodgkin's Lymphoma here. (includes symptoms. A couple of symptoms of HL are night sweats and pain in the lymph nodes after drinking alcohol - although Matt had neither of these symptoms.)

A couple of Hodgkin's Lymphoma facebook discussion groups I found helpful here and here, for anyone who has been recently diagnosed.