Day 1 – I have CLL, that is Chronic lymphocytic leukemia. It is considered a B-cell cancer, generally thought of as a non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and is essentially the same disease with slightly different manifestations. When most of the cancer cells are located in the bloodstream and the bone marrow, the disease is referred to as CLL, although the lymph nodes and spleen are often involved as well. CLL tends to be a slow-growing cancer. However, it is progressive, having no cure.  According to the American Society, approximately 15,000 new cases of CLL are diagnosed annually.

With that said, I will start at the beginning. It was the day before Christmas, 2010. I awoke with an agonizing pain on the lower left side of my back, and after several hours, decided that I needed to go to the emergency room. At the hospital, I was given a shot for pain, and then given a CAT scan. After about an hour, the doctor came to me, and asked me who was my main health provider, I told him, and he told me to see them as soon as I could. I told him that I was getting a complete physical, Jan 16, 2011, with that, he told me, that was too late, I needed to go sooner. I was released from the emergency room, given some pain pills and sent home. The doctor also told me to tell my health provider that I should have a nuclear test, which I had never heard of before.

Christmas morning, my wife and I were to board a plane, heading north, to spend our holiday with our children and grandchildren. As hard as I tried, I was unable to board the plane, as my pain was so intense. I spend the whole day, laying down at home, trying not to use the pain pills I was given, as I have never been a person who liked pills. The following day, I was in such pain, that I decided to go to the hospital that was my healthcare provider. I entered the emergency room once again, and after getting another CAT scan, I was admitted to the hospital, going to the third floor.

I was told by my doctor, that I had a kidney stone, and they would surgically remove it the following day. The following morning, my doctor told me that he was not going to remove it, but that he was going to let it pass by itself.  Wondering what was going on, I asked my nurse, and then my doctor when he came to my room again, what was going on. He told me that an Oncologist would visit me later in the day. I did not even know what an Oncologist was, as I have rarely been sick all of my life. I had a physical once a year, and that was it. All okay, I was told, and merrily I would go on my way.

That evening a doctor walked into my room, and told me I had non-Hodgkin lymphoma. I asked what that was, as the words sounded very serious, and he told me it was cancer. At that moment, my life changed, my wife’s life changed, and all my hopes and dreams changed. I was devastated, holding back tears as I told my wife, her crying uncontrollably.

As it turned out, as I will explain in future posting, it was CLL, and as explained above, he was right on, with a slight difference. Not having any other tests done, other than the CAT scan, to that point, has given me a good feeling about my Oncologists ability.