Posts Tagged ‘Lymphoma’

Cancer Ten Years On

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

As I've mentioned on this blog I had a bit of a run in with Lymphoma back in 2006/2007. Well here we are and ten years have passed so what's changed in this time? LOTS! But more importantly what has changed within me, the survivor?
Well I'm cancer free, and I have issues related to my treatment that have effected me both physically and mentally. It's more of the mental health that are my biggest problems.

I have issues with certain parts of the treatment I received, namely Radiotherapy and the high dose of Methotrexate. It was the latter that causes me the most trouble. But why? this is the question that plagues me still. There's no logic in why I feel the way I do, but if the mind was this simple to question then my issues wouldn't exist! The issue of Radiotherapy isn't one of a mental issue but that of a physical. I suffered from burns to my tongue, throat and neck, and the healing of these wounds took longer than it would if my body wasn't so run down. Today the effects of those burns has affected my taste due to about 2/3rd of my taste buds being removed!

All through this I'd lost my ability to smell, I originally thought it was due to the necrotic tissue that had physically blocked my nose. However several months post radiotherapy and my nose had almost cleared up, but not a hint of my sense of smell was going to return any time soon. 😡

Then finally in 2013 we got around to doing what was planned for 2006! (but only one!)

Two Week Lenses

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Today I received my first pairs (yes I meant two!) of biweekly contact lenses. Since I started with contacts, I've been using the daily disposable type. This has meant that I have not had the routine of cleaning the lenses after each use. So this is where the fun begins! 🙂

The type of cleaning option that has been selected for me is one that uses Hydrogen Peroxide to make sure that if any bugs decide to take up residence on the lenses that their life won't be very pleasant! This may sound strange that you would use such a strong chemical that it alone can cause problems if misused, However in my circumstances the contacts are being used as a bandage as well as for corrective vision.

The amount of correction has changed frequently as the surface of my corneas has been healing, but it seems to have settled for the moment. With correction my eyesight is pretty much back to normal, but there's still moments of a  slight haze but this is only apparent in bright light. It was horrible when it was (for a time) this was my normal vision.

More to follow…

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Eyesight Follow Up

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

As I mentioned in the last post how radiotherapy side effects has caused damage to the surface of my eyes. Well today I had a follow up to see how the regular use of a lubrication ointment has (hopefully) helped in allowing the eye surface to repair.

Well today It was suggested that I should try using contact lenses over the glasses I got a few months back. This will have a dual benefit by correcting my short sightedness and to provide a protective barrier to the surface of the eye. 

I've been supplied with five days of disposable lenses to see if the contacts don't irritate the eyes or introduce an infection. Well the first six hours were total bliss! The feeling when blinking felt silky smooth as opposed to gritty and dry.

I'm hoping that this allows my eyes to heal or at least settle to the point where they don't deteriorate any further. So this is still a work in progress.

More to follow…

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Eyesight & Radiotherapy

Friday, October 26th, 2012

For the last few months I've been having trouble with my eyesight. Way back in 2007 I needed to have radiotherapy to null the effect of lymphoma consuming my sinuses. Now jump forward to now…  I normally suffer from hay fever during spring/summer and as a result I get itchy dry eyes. Well once that seasonal time passed I was still having problems with dry eyes.

Now you may say "oh dry eyes isn't a problem" however, prolonged periods can be. You tears lubricate the surface of the eye, so if you have a reduced tear production this can lead to the surface becoming scratched (this irritates the eye even more!) So if left you're damaging the surface and in turn potentially harming your vision.

So the role that radiotherapy has played in my case is the damage it has done to my tongue, saliva glands & tear ducts. It's the latter that has caused me my grief because it's taken until now to show up as being a problem. The vision in my left eye has been suboptimal for months, so I went to an optometrists for a consult to be told that the vision in the left was 48/6 and that I'd need glasses to bring that eye up to standard. My right eye at this point was ok but needed only minor correction. So lenses were ordered frames selected and with the addition of using lots of eye drops/gel all was ok

So that was about two months ago and since then my left eye has improved marginally but my right eye had deteriorated dramatically due to the surface becoming scratched (pretty much as bad as the left was) and the lens for the right eye was now ineffective. So I revisit the optometrists for options, but it's all down to the lack of tears being made, yes I can use products to assist but nothing is as good as your own tears!

More to follow… (eventually)

Posted from WordPress for Android

Eyesight & Radiotherapy

Friday, October 26th, 2012

For the last few months I've been having trouble with my eyesight. Way back in 2007 I needed to have radiotherapy to null the effect of lymphoma consuming my sinuses. Now jump forward to now…  I normally suffer from hay fever during spring/summer and as a result I get itchy dry eyes. Well once that seasonal time passed I was still having problems with dry eyes.

Now you may say "oh dry eyes isn't a problem" however, prolonged periods can be. You tears lubricate the surface of the eye, so if you have a reduced tear production this can lead to the surface becoming scratched (this irritates the eye even more!) So if left you're damaging the surface and in turn potentially harming your vision.

So the role that radiotherapy has played in my case is the damage it has done to my tongue, saliva glands & tear ducts. It's the latter that has caused me my grief because it's taken until now to show up as being a problem. The vision in my left eye has been suboptimal for months, so I went to an optometrists for a consult to be told that the vision in the left was 48/6 and that I'd need glasses to bring that eye up to standard. My right eye at this point was ok but needed only minor correction. So lenses were ordered frames selected and with the addition of using lots of eye drops/gel all was ok

So that was about two months ago and since then my left eye has improved marginally but my right eye had deteriorated dramatically due to the surface becoming scratched (pretty much as bad as the left was) and the lens for the right eye was now ineffective. So I revisit the optometrists for options, but it's all down to the lack of tears being made, yes I can use products to assist but nothing is as good as your own tears!

More to follow… (eventually)

Posted from WordPress for Android

Lymphoma, almost 5 years on…

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

Gosh how time passes quickly, as it didn't seem that long ago that I was on the front line for treatment. How I dreaded each chemotherapy session due to both the physical side effects as well as the mental breakdown within me as time passed. All the trouble I had after the 2nd, 3rd & 4th cycles of chemo when my remaining immune system was falling criticality low that required hospitalisation. Then the news after the 4th chemo session I relapsed and the cancer tumours started to expand causing my face to be stretched and the intense pain associated with this. Then to be subjected to 6 weeks of radiotherapy (a delicate procedure due to the location) Having a fibreglass mold of my face created as to hold me in the correct position when placed under the linear actuator so that the cancer was hit and not anything else. Also losing weight (almost 1/4 of my body weight) and the associated feeling of being weak and also feeling the cold weather conditions like I was exposed in -20°C without the appropriate clothing! Dealing with the high dose of Methotrexate that all up had me hospitalised for almost 11 weeks in total…

Jump forward to now…

Out of work (disability pension) low self esteem, not good in large crowds and elevated anxiety (something I never had trouble with) long periods of depression with flashbacks of certain procedures that were either painful or generally not pleasant. That continuous question… Why did I survive?

Clearly the latter is the worst part of all as it consumes me, sometimes to the point of… Well you can make your own opinion of that!

So sometimes it's hard to be truly happy that I'm a cancer survivor (although those who are close to me share a completely different view) Certainly the person who I once saw in the mirror has changed considerably from the one I knew prior to all of this..!

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Cyclophosphamide, Doxorubicin, Vincristine and Prednisone.

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Did I get your attention from the title? and what are those names?

Well for anyone who has recently or is still under going treatment for Lymphoma then these are some words that will affect you in a rather personal way. These are the chemicals that make up the treatment called CHOP. This is of course not the only treatment for such blood cancer, As this will vary depending on your individual type (B-cell, T-cell)

Now for me the word CHOP means a lot, but also disappointment! as I underwent 4 cycles of CHOP to only relapse part way through the 4th cycle. Of course this was no fault of the treatment, it had a lot  more to do with the disease that was consuming me. The next move for me was Radiotherapy, its strange how this is called a therapy! because depending where you have it it can be quite uncomfortable. The side effects don't usually present until you are well into your treatment. In concert with radiotherapy I was also subjected to a very high dose of Methotrexate, this is a nasty chemotherapy! as it made me very ill and I was left with a residual level in my body 3 weeks after it was administered. Folinic Acid is used to neutralise the effect of this when used in such high doses, this was also administered via IV. On the day that I went into hospital to have the Methotrexate chemo, there was a pretty purple sign on the wall (to indicate that I will be cytotoxic) this had 48 hours written on it, and I thought that it meant I would be home in 2 days! hmm… try 3 1/2 weeks 🙁

Extranodal NK/T cell lymphoma, nasal type (Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma) was my official diagnosis back in September 2006. I'm almost 3 years in remission and life has certainly changed since that day that I received the news. The person I have to thank for keeping me in good spirit and constantly being there is my wife Clare, with out her I certainly wouldn't have continued the journey I was subjected to…

If in doubt… get it checked out! 😉

Lymphoma Awareness and YOU!

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

I was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma in September 2006. Since then I have wondered just how many people are aware of this cancer? Also would you know how to detect any of the early signs of this disease?  Below there is some general information, if you should have any doubt or queries about this information then consult with your local G.P. as the earlier the diagnosis the better the chances of recovery… My diagnosis was stage 1 NKT-cell NHL and  I underwent treatment between October 2006 – April 2007.  I was declared "In Remission" in late April of 2007… and to date I am still…

Remember, if in doubt get it checked out!

The following information is sourced from leukaemia.org.au

B and T-cell lymphomas

What are they?

B and T- cell lymphomas (also known as non-Hodgkin lymphomas ) are cancers of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system forms part of the immune system. It contains specialised white blood cells called lymphocytes that help protect the body from infection and disease. Lymphomas arise when developing B and T-lymphocytes undergo a malignant change, and multiply in an uncontrolled way. These abnormal lymphocytes, called lymphoma cells, form collections of cancer cells called tumours, in lymph nodes (glands) and other parts of the body.

The majority of lymphomas (around 80 per cent) arise in developing B-lymphocytes (B-cell lymphomas). The remainder arise in developing T-lymphocytes (T-cell lymphomas).

How common are they?

Each year in Australia around 3,500 people are diagnosed with type of B-cell or T-cell lymphoma* making them the most common type of blood cancer diagnosed. Overall, they represent the sixth most common type of cancer in men, and the fifth most common type of cancer in women.

Who gets lymphomas?

Lymphomas can occur at any age but they are more common in adults over the age of 50 years, who account for over 70 per cent of all cases. Around 40 children (0-14 years) in Australia are diagnosed with lymphoma each year. Lymphomas occur more frequently in men than in women.

What causes lymphomas?

In most cases the exact cause of lymphomas remains unknown but they are thought to result from damage to one or more of the genes that normally control the development of blood cells. Research is going on all the time into possible causes of this damage and it is thought the alterations in the immune system may play a role in some cases. People with a weakened immune system (immunosuppressed) due to an inherited immune deficiency disease, HIV infection, and drugs taken to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ, all have an increased chance of developing lymphoma. Certain viruses such as the Epstein Barr virus, the virus that causes glandular fever, may be involved, particularly in people who are immunosuppressed. The bacteria helicobacter pylori is associated with a rare type of lymphoma called MALT lymphoma which usually affects the lining of the stomach wall.

What are the symptoms?

Some people don't have any symptoms when they are first diagnosed with lymphoma and the disease is picked up during a routine chest x-ray.

The most common symptom of lymphoma is a firm, usually painless swelling of a lymph node (swollen glands), usually in the neck, under the arms or in the groin.

Other symptoms may include:

  • recurrent fevers
  • excessive sweating at night
  • unintentional weight loss
  • persistent fatigue and lack of energy
  • generalised itching

Sometimes lymphoma starts in the lymph nodes in deeper parts of the body like those found in the abdomen (causing bloating), or the lymph nodes in the chest (causing coughing, discomfort in the chest and difficulty breathing). When it is first diagnosed, it is common for lymphoma to be found in several different sites in the body at once. It can spread to any organ and may involve the spleen, liver, brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) and bone marrow.

How are they diagnosed?

B and T-cell lymphomas are diagnosed by examining cells from an affected lymph node.

How are they treated?

Treatment varies depending the exact type of B or T-cell lymphoma you have, where it has spread in your body and how fast it is likely to grow. Your age and your general health are also taken into account.

There are 30 different types of B and T-cell lymphomas, many of which affect the body in different ways, and respond differently to treatment. Some lymphomas grow quickly and need to be treated as soon as they are diagnosed. Others grow more slowly and do not need to be treated straightaway.

Both the grade of your lymphoma and whether it belongs to the B-Cell or T-cell group can be determined by examining the cells from your lymph node biopsy under a microscope in the laboratory.

Below you will find some examples of B-cell and T-cell lymphomas. The more common types are written in bold text.

B-Cell Lymphomas

T-Cell Lymphomas

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma Peripheral T-cell lymphoma
Follicular lymphoma Mycosis fungoides
Extranodal marginal zone B-cell lymphoma (also called mucosa-associated lymphatic tissue lymphoma or MALT lymphoma) Sezary syndrome
Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia/small lymphocytic leukaemia Angio-immunoblastic T-cell lymphoma
Mantle cell lymphoma Anaplastic large cell lymphoma
Mediastinal (thymic) large B-cell lymphoma Precursor T-lymphocyte leukaemia/lymphoma
Burkitt’s lymphoma/leukaemia
Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinaemia (also called Lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma)
Nodal marginal zone B-cell lymphoma
Splenic marginal zone lymphoma

Chemotherapy is usually given as a combination of drugs, in several cycles (or courses) of treatment with a rest period of a few weeks in between each cycle. Chemotherapy may be given in either tablet form or intravenously, into a vein in your hand or arm, or through a special line called a central venous catheter inserted before you start treatment.

It may also be injected intrathecally , directly into the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, to treat disease in this area.

Improved results have been achieved by combining chemotherapy with monoclonal antibodies for example rituximab (Mabthera ®). This drug works by deliberately targeting abnormal lymphocytes, allowing chemotherapy to be delivered directly to the lymphoma cells without causing harmful side effects to other parts of the body.

Occasionally, a stem cell transplant is given, providing some people with a better chance of cure or long-term control of their disease. It is generally only suitable in some situations where the lymphoma has come back (relapsed) or is at high risk of relapse, and where it doesn't respond well to standard (conventional) treatment.

Slow-growing (indolent) lymphomas

In these cases the doctor may recommend regular checkups to carefully monitor your health. If this type of lymphoma is limited to a small group of lymph nodes radiotherapy alone may be able to cure or control it for a very long time. In some situations chemotherapy is given, either in tablet form or intravenously. This is usually very effective and puts many people with slow-growing lymphomas into remission that lasts a long time.

Fast-growing (aggressive) lymphoma

Fast-growing lymphomas respond well to chemotherapy and radiotherapy and can often be cured.

Side effects of treatment

All treatments can cause side effects. The type and severity however will vary between individuals, depending on the type of treatment used and how an individual responds to it. In general, more intensive treatment is associated with more severe side-effects. It is important to report any symptoms you are having to your doctor or nurse. In most cases they can be treated and are reversible.

Possible side effects of chemotherapy include:

  • feeling sick – nausea and/or vomiting
  • feeling tired and weak
  • a drop in blood counts, especially white cells (with increased susceptibility to infection)
  • hair loss and thinning
  • mouth problems such as mucositis or ulcers
  • diarrhoea or constipation
  • skin problems such as dryness, rash or sensitivity to sunlight.

Radiotherapy can cause similar side effects to those caused by chemotherapy including nausea and vomiting, hair loss and fatigue. In general however the type of side effects seen with radiotherapy depends on the area of the body which has been treated. Skin reactions are common.

Your doctor and nurse will discuss with you the possible side-effects of any treatments you need and how they can be managed.

  • Sources:
    Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Australian Associated Cancer Registry (2004) Cancer in Australia 2001
    AIHW (2005) Cancer Incidence Projections for Australia 2002 – 2011