Saving Sarah from Cancer

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My story started on February 6th 2016, I went to Urgent care because I had ringing in my ears, jaw pain, headaches, nausea, and was feeling run down. The urgent care doctor told me to take over-the-counter medicines and sent me home. The next day I was so nauseous I couldn’t get out of bed but I had my sister bring me to a store to get something I needed for my job. I spent the week using over-the-counter medicines for my symptoms but on February 14th I had a headache that would not go away with anything so I went back to Urgent care. The same doctor told me to get someone to drive me to ER and he would refund my co-pay because the could do more for me to cure my headache. I had my friend drive me and they treated my headache with Metoclopramide (Reglan) and told me to follow up with my primary care doctor.

On February 15th 2016, I had an appointment with my new primary physician. He thought it might just be tension headaches but decided to order blood work. He called me on my cell phone at about 6pm at night and said he wanted me to come in the next day for some more tests. I told him I could come in after work and he said he would wait for me.

On February 16th 2016, I went to see Dr. F and he told me the the blood indicated I had an elevate ALT and low platelets (49) Thrombocytopenia. He had talked to a hematologist at Regions hospital and the confirmed that more tests were needed and he wanted to see me this week too. Dr. F also ordered a CT scan of head/brain and maxillofacial without dye. On my way from his office to the lab (in the same building) Dr. J from Regions hematology called and said he needed to see me this week after they got the results of my blood work. We agreed to talk after he saw the blood results. I had 10 vials of blood for 21 different tests drawn and then I went to Regions hospital to have my CT scans.

On February 17th Dr. J called and said he had looked over my lab results and believed I may have a bacterial infection and my regular physician Dr. F would be calling in a prescription for Azithromycin and I should start that today. We made an appointment for me to see him in 2 days. Dr. J’s nurse called me the next day to confirm my appointment and ask me to show up early to have blood drawn before my appointment.

On February 19th 2016, I had my appointment with Dr. J at the Cancer Care Center at Regions hospital. He was very nice and said he thought he knew what was wrong but needed a Bone Marrow biopsy to be sure. They do them in the office so we stepped into the next room and had the procedure done. Then he asked us to go have lunch while we waited for the results and come back and we would discuss them. So I went to lunch in the hospital cafeteria with my mom and her friend who worked in the hospital. When we returned Dr. J explained that I had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma according to the Bone Marrow aspirate. He said he thought he knew the type but would need to wait for the Bone Marrow to confirm. He told me that it was an aggressive Lymphoma which meant he could treat it better but I would need to start treatment right away. I was taken to have a PICC line put in my right arm by IR and admitted inpatient to South 6, the Oncology ward of the hospital. They started Rasburicase IV and Allopurinol for the Tumor Lysis Syndrome. That evening, Dr. J came to the ward to check on me to make sure I was ok and answer and questions I had. He assured me that I was going to make it and that if I had not been admitted I would not have made it through the weekend.

On February 21st, I had an MRI of my brainstem with and without dye. On February 22nd,I had a CT of my thorax with dye and abdomen/pelvis with contrast. February 23rd they confirmed that I had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma Burkitts and we decided on a regiment for treatment. We chose R-CODOX-M / R-IVAC. February 24th, I had an Echocardiogram (pre-chemo). On February 25th we started cycle one of chemotherapy. on February 28th I had a blood transfusion of 2 units. On March 1st I had Intrathecal Chemotherapy (spinal tap) and was Neutropenic so couldn’t leave my room without a mask. On March 3rd I had another Intrathecal Chemotherapy (spinal tap) and a platelet transfusion. March 4th (My birthday, I’m now 34) I had and x-ray of abdomen and front view for abdominal pain, turned out to be constipation. March 6th I had another blood transfusion. On March 9th I got a day pass out of the hospital so I went to see my co-worker, out to breakfast with my mom, and home to see my cat. On March 10th I finished the last part of chemotherapy for round 1. On March 12th I had a blood transfusion. On March 13th I was discharged from the hospital after 24 days. On the way home we stopped at Great Clips and I got my hair shaved as it was falling out and I didn’t want to clog the drains at home.

On March 15th I had an appointment with another Oncology doctor as mine was out of town and he said my counts were ready to start round 2. On March 17th I got saline and Rituxan in the Infusion Center as well as a Lupron injection. On March 18th I checked back into South 6 for treatment. On March 22nd, I had Intrathecal Chemotherapy and was discharged the next day and got a Neulasta injection.  On March 24th, 25th, and 28th I had Infusion Center appointments. On the 25th I was prescribed Levofloxcin for my Neutropenia and on the 28th I needed to have two units of blood (6.2) and one unit of platelets (5) because they were so low I had a bloody nose that wouldn’t stop!

On March 29th My mom took me to the ER for high fevers and chills which would spike every 4 hours. I had CT maxillofacial without dye, CT Abdomen/pelvis with contrast, Chest X-ray frontal/lateral platelet infusion (12), and was started on antibiotics after cultures were drawn. On March 31st, an upper extremity venous doppler study was done. Then on April 1st (No April fool here) the blood cultures showed a staphylococcus species, Coagulase negative in my PICC line. So they removed the PICC line and I became a human pin cushion for days as they waited for the infection to clear. I had to have 2 IV’s because the first one got infiltrated. On April 4th I had another chest X-ray frontal view. On April 5th a new PICC line was inserted left arm by IR after PICC services tried for a long time to insert on and couldn’t get it (ouch!). On April 7th they started round 3 of chemotherapy. On April 8th I had Intrathecal chemotherapy and was discharged on April 10th after 13 days in the hospital this time.

April 11th, 13th and 15th I had Infusion Center appointments with 2 units of  saline for dehydration on the 11th, clearing of my PICC line with Thrombotic agent on the 13th and I was Neutropenic again on the 15th. I went to the Infusion center for Neuprogen shots on April 15,16, and 17th. Then on April 17th I went to the ER after feeling dizzy and was diagnosed with Symptomatic anemia and given two units of blood.

On April 18th, I woke up with abdominal pain that moved to my left side and got worse. We went to the Infusion Center in a wheel chair due to the pain and was seen by the physicians assistant. She prescribed Morphine for the pain, Ondasetron for the nausea, and started antibiotics Metronidazole and Cefepime. I drank contrast and was taken to CT for an abdomen/pelvis scan. When we got there they didn’t want me with other people due to being neutropenic so they put me in another room while I waited. I got really nauseous and threw up, but luckily it was only liquid on my stomach. Then I was back to South 6 with a suspected case of Colonitis. On April 21st I had a chest X-ray frontal view. On April 22nd I got the last part of round 3 chemotherapy and was discharged from on April 24th with 7 days in hospital.

April 25th, 27th, 29th and May 2nd were all Infusion center appointments with a clot removal on the 27th from my PICC line. On May 4th, we started round 4 of chemotherapy with saline and Rituxan at the Infusion center. On May 5th I was admitted to the hospital for my last round of Chemotherapy. On May 8th I had a blood transfusion and on May 9th Intrathecal Chemotherapy. Then I was discharged on May 10th with only 6 days in the hospital this time. On May 11th I had an Infusion Center appointment where the cleared the blockage, changed my dressing and had an Neulasta Injection.

On May 12th I was admitted to ER for Neutropenic fevers, Cefepime antibiotic was started, and blood cultures were drawn. On May 13th I had a blood transfusion and an EKG. On May 14th I had a blood and platelet transfusion. On May 16th, I had a CT scan that showed I had Typhlitis and Pheumonia and a platelet transfusion. On May 17th I had a blood transfusion. On May 20th I was told I was C. Diff positive and everyone now was wearing yellow gowns and gloves when they come in the room. On May 21st another CT was done and for a while while I fought these infections I has on a liquid diet.  I was given antibiotics Metronidazole and Vancomycin, first in IV and then switched to oral medicine. On May 26th I was discharged to go home and recover after 15 days in the hospital.

On May 27th, 31st and June 1st I had Infusion Center appointments with a clot cleared on the 27th and dressing change on the 1st. On May 31st I had a CT scan and on June 1st I had a Bone Marrow biopsy to check to make sure the Cancer was gone. On June 3rd I had an appointment with Dr. J and he told me the tests showed there was “No Cancer” but he wanted to do a PET scan and a liver MRI to make sure. On June 10th I had a PET scan and it showed I had “No Cancer.” On June 10th, and 17th I had Infusion Center appointment to have my dressing changed and blood cheeked with my PICC line being removed on the 17th. On July 1st my lab results showed my blood counts to be in “normal” ranges.

Finally after 13 blood transfusions, 5 platelet transfusions, 7 Echocardiograms, 7 CT scans, 2 MRI’s, 4 trips the the ER, 4 infections, 5 spinal taps (CNS Chemo), 2 PICC lines, 2 Bone Marrow biopsies, 71 days inpatient at Regions hospital (South 6), and 218 cards from friends and family I’m in remission!