I had not, until I read this, for once thought of the possibility that I would die from this. The thought literally never crossed my mind, whether I unconsciously pushed it aside or it never came. Every single person has said to me that Hodgkin's Disease is highly cureable. That's even how this booklet starts out: "Hodgkin lymphoma, one of the most curable forms of cancer, was named for the physician Thomas Hodgkin."
But blazing at me in golden rod and yellow is "Table 5: International Prognostic Factors for Advanced Hodgkin Lymphoma" showing the high-risk factors, the first one being: "the patient has Stage IV disease." It goes on to say that those with low-risk Hodgkin lymphoma (this is not me) in Stage I and II have a 95% cure rate. All along, I thought that I was also in that 95 percentile, but no, I am stage 4B. That's 4 with added risk factors and b symptoms. Fantastic.
Next section: Advanced Hodgkin Lymphoma (this is me.) I look at the little diagram of the simple bodies in Stage I and II with just a smattering of red indicating cancer presence. Then there's the Stage 4 body silhouette gleaming with spots of red from the neck to the spleen. I read on: "Hodgkin lymphoma is potentially cureable in late stages." Rewind. potentially? potentially cureable? This is when I lost it. Full flood gates open.
Being a writer by trade myself I know how powerful words can be and this word stabbed me right in the tumor-filled chest. What a fully loaded word choice ... . Having "potential" is what you tell the dyslexic kid that wants to win the spelling bee or the big girl that wants to win the beauty pageant. This word now echoes through me and I realize the seriousness of all of this. Death had been off the table until just this moment when it really sunk in how far along this cancer is. I know that dwelling on and worrying about one stupid sentence in a poorly worded Hodgkin's handbook isn't going to help my situation but it doesn't change the fact that I'm forced to realize the potential brevity of this fragile life.
I just can't understand how this could have happened. When did it start? How long have these mutated cells been inside of me and how fast are they multiplying? Was there something I could have done to prevent it?
Now I'm more poised than ever to beat this, whatever stage I'm in and despite what this "international consortium" determined as my prognosis. Hodgkin lymphoma is highly cureable and I am going to be fine. My oncologist says so.