First of all, I want to thank everyone for the numerous well-wishes, cards, and prayers. It has been overwhelming and heart-warming to read every single one of them! Please forgive me for not replying to everyone individually.
My port will be placed on September 8 and am scheduled to begin chemo treatments on September 9. Treatments should be every-other-week from there. My other preliminary tests have been completed, so other than waiting, I’m ready to go!
In the meantime, it’s a rush to get caught up on things at home, especially things I may not be able (or allowed!) to do for awhile.
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I’ll get right to the point – I have some unfortunate news to share. This summer I have been diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin Lymphoma (Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkin Lymphoma to be exact). But don’t worry! It’s very treatable, and likely curable. But it won’t be an easy journey.
Long story is – I have not been feeling well most of this year: different symptoms on and off, notably swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, and cough, among many others. In July I finally went to “get checked out”. From the initial blood test, lymphoma was suspected, and ultimately confirmed several weeks later with a PET scan and biopsy.
Sometime shortly after labor day, I will have a medi-port installed, and will begin chemo treatments. It will start with a regiment of 4 cycles of chemo (a period 8 treatments over 16 weeks). From there I will be re-evaluated to see if more chemo is required, and/or if radiation is needed.
I will be keeping a basic blog of my journey through treatments. Honestly I’m already tired of talking about it, and I haven’t even started treatment! This will be a way I can give updates en masse, and save me from broken-record syndrome. You can access this blog here: https://www.alexfries.com/cancer
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I have been looking forward to a somewhat normal fall, with church choir, Chinese choir, and community band restarting – Perhaps finally a somewhat normal life for this musician. Well I guess I’m going to have to wait awhile more. I will also be pausing lessons and outside piano/organ work.
I’m not excited about this situation, but I will do what I have to do. Once treatments start, I will, for Luyang’s sanity, take it easy and be very careful. I will, for my sanity, try to live as normal of a life as possible, even if that means staying at home mostly. Probably no holidays with family this year! Well, I think Bella will be happy to have me home all the time!
I don’t intend this blog to be a pity party for myself, but I know many of you will ask questions. So let me get in front of a few. I do not have insurance, but I am part of a Catholic healthshare “ministry” called “Solidarity Healthshare”. I fell into the “Family Glitch” of the illustrious ACA, and it was simply unaffordable for me at the time to have traditional insurance. Anyway, I have never had to “use it” (the healthshare), so, we’ll see how it all works out. It is similar to insurance, but I pay everything upfront, and am reimbursed according to eligibility later. Theoretically, this should work out just fine. If it does, you will hear its praises from me!
My primary care doctor is a little different, too. His practice is what is called “Direct Primary Care”. I basically pay a monthly membership fee to him, and I essentially have unlimited access to him. As many visits as I want, text/email/call whenever, etc. He’s also Catholic! If this sort of thing interests you, let me know and I can explain more.
So far, all doctors, my oncologist, biopsy surgeon, medical imaging, and hospital social workers have been wonderful. I am very pleased and blessed with how everything is going. My lack of insurance really hasn’t been a hindrance, just extra paperwork and a bit extra stress. It’s going to be tough going forward, I know. Even with insurance, these treatments are very expensive. However I have been assured by many along the way that the hospital will work with us, and not fight with us. Deo Gratias!
Some good news to share is that Luyang and I are finally homeowners, having bought the house we’ve called home for years now. (We’ve been renting.)
So for the cliches. Life comes at you fast! Don’t take for granted tomorrow. Give thanks to God for your blessings. I know this sucks a bit for me, but I also know how blessed I am.
Please don’t worry, but please keep me, Luyang, Bella, and the rest of our family in your prayers.
Once I begin my treatments, I will write again. Thank you! Love you all!