Most of the folks reading this should know this story, but for those just joining in, I will provide a short bio. I have Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, by the way.
I am a 25 year old guy living in Charlotte NC. I was born in Newport RI and raised in Dumfries VA. I am a 2002 graduate of CD Hylton High School in Woodbridge VA. I spent 4 years at Elon University and got a degree in International Studies and History.
Upon graduating Elon, I spent some time screwing around as a waiter. I then joined the TSA and snooped through peoples’ luggage for a living. After tiring of that, I became a police officer and that is where we pick up. Approximately 2 years into my most recent venture…
In April 2009, I began to feel really, really, well bad. Like shit actually. I was always an energetic guy. I loved to work out, eat out, do projects and take trips, I was constantly on the go. And if I was relaxing, I was exercising my mind by reading or learning about something new. I work 3rd, shift, which is all night, so while most people are asleep, I am out on the streets keeping the criminal element from doing too much damage. At times it can be the most boring job in the world. At other times, it is non-stop running around for 8 hours. After getting off work in the wee hours of the morning, I would work out at a local gym, then run and go to bed at about 9am. Well all of that stopped starting around mid to late April.
I began to just feel run down. I have struggled with a chronic illness called Common Variable Immune Deficiency since I was about 8. As a result of that I don’t like to go to the doctor’s unless it is close to life or death. So when in April I began to run a fever, have night sweats, chills, and feel exhausted, I did what I always do and ignore it. I got more rest, began to improve my diet some, and laid off the working out. Well the symptoms didn’t improve. They got worse and worse. Finally in mid May, after hobbling through 3 or 4 day work weeks, and almost collapsing while out doing errands, I decided I had to do something.
The left side of my abdomen was swollen to almost twice what it normally looks like, I could feel my spleen by my belt, I was not sleeping at all, I was pouring sweat all night, and running a mid grade fever. I was sent to get a CT Scan and told to stay in over the weekend and take it easy. I did these things and on that monday returned to the doctor who then sent me to see an oncologist. I met with the oncologist and he immediately admitted me to Presbyterian Hospital.
I spent a week being picked over by numerous doctors, having a lymph node removed for a biopsy, and seeing various specialists. No one was sure of what was going on with me. It could be lymphoma, it could by some weird bacteria related to TB, it could be something bizarre that no one knows about yet. Well, after a week of lying in the hospital, I was allowed to return to work on light duty. That means that I work out of the office and do odd jobs and follow up investigations.
After a week of working in the office, I went to the surgeon for a follow up. It was supposed to be just a routine exam to inspect the incision that was made on my left arm pit to ensure it was healing properly. When I got there, she said, “We have the biopsy results back and you have lymphoma.” I was surprised to hear this news, but I had suspected that was the case all along, so I was about as prepared as anyone could be. I was going to see my oncologist in a couple of days, So I decided not to tell anyone but to call my fiancee and mom and have them come to Charlotte so they could get the news personally.
On June 4, 2009 I went to my oncologist’s office where he told me that it was stage 3 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. We began to sketch out a rough plan on what my treatment would be like. I then spent the whole next week at a different doctor’s office having tests run to stage the cancer and figure out where exactly it was. I went back into the hospital to have a port inserted into my chest for chemotherapy was released from the hospital, and readmitted at a different hospital to receive my first chemo treatment. All that went off without a hitch. I then returned to work on light duty.
So that is my early days as a cancer survivor in a nutshell. If you are dizzy from reading that, then be glad I didn’t give you the detailed version. There is nothing quite like packing an ungodly amount of medical information into a 2 week period to make you realize how much can actually be dome in a day. Please continue on to the ORDER OF BATTLE page to see what happens next.