Nov. 30: News from Dr. O

Victor and I met with my oncologist this morning. We were both immediately impressed with her—it helps that she came highly recommended, sure, but in normal conversation the woman is obviously brilliant and very kind. Also, she reminded me of my “auntie” Claire and I liked her right away because of that too.

She asked a lot of questions about me and my life in general, went over some of my medical history and then started in with the radiologists’ and pathologists’ reports.

My tumor measures approximately the size of an orange. AN ORANGE! My god, is it any wonder I’ve been a bitch for so long?

The type of lymphoma I’ve got is B-cell (not T-cell, apparently important), and the other notable characteristic is something called CD20. This means that my lymphoma responds well to chemotherapy. In fact, Dr. O says that radiation and surgery pretty much won’t work for most lymphomas; chemo is the only way to go.

I was actually a little disappointed to hear this, because I so want to get rid of my back pain and I figured surgery would be the quickest way to do that. However, Dr. O promised that I’ll notice the tumor shrinking after the FIRST chemo treatment. THE FIRST ONE! I can live with that timing.

The bad part, of course, is that the type of chemotherapy I’ll be given comes with all the traditional side effects: nausea, fatigue, and hair loss, to name a few. I was hoping not to have to deal with the hair loss, but no luck. You know how some people look surprisingly beautiful bald, like you suddenly notice how beautiful their facial features are? That ain’t me. You know those guys who shave their heads because they think they’ll look so cool, but instead you see how oddly-shaped their head is, full of dents and scars, and how much they really shouldn’t have shaved their heads? That is me. I’m not going to look good bald. Trust me on this one.

Alright, so my first chemotherapy treatment is tomorrow morning. Dr. O says I should plan on getting a wig immediately, because my hair will probably start falling out very soon. So, ladies… time for a wig shopping party! I’m not sure I’ll be a wig-wearer, but I’d like to be prepared. Vic wants me to get three wigs—one in my natural color, one very long blond wig and a very long red wig. The man is deluded, clearly, if he thinks I might honor this request—and if a single one of you takes his side I’ll make sure you regret it. I’ve got some powerful people on my side these days.

I’ll do chemo treatments every three weeks for a few months. I suppose then we’ll see how things are progressing and decide what the next course of action should be. Ideally, the chemo will make the tumor disappear and the cancer go into remission, but that’s the VERY best case scenario.

Generally speaking, and considering it’s cancer we’re dealing with, today’s appointment had lots of good news.

  • Mine is one of the cancers most responsive to treatment.
  • Chemotherapy success with my type of lymphoma is 85-90 percent.
  • I’m starting treatment immediately, and should see some changes immediately—not all of these changes thrill me, but the idea of being able to sleep in my bed again is a dream come true.
  • I get to have a wig shopping party wit’ my girls!

When it comes to cancer, I guess we have to pick out the least bad of the awful. There ya go.



  1. Hi Jen! Thanks for keeping us posted. Your fanclub appreciates the frequent updates. :)

    Wow...chemo starts tomorrow. I guess that's a good thing. Now that you know what your up against, (Satan's Orange?,) it'll be nice to start ridding yourself of it as quickly as possible. Thankfully Wellington and Darlene will be back in town on Thursday, so you'll have more folks available to help take care of the kidlets.

    Take care. We'll be thinking of you guys.

    Ted M.

  2. Wow. Lots to digest today; sounds like you and Vic are both doing a good job of looking on the bright side. Yeah for tumors that respond to chemo, and for wigs too. Happy wig shopping--I wish I were closer to weigh in on your options, but I have a sense the wig shop will already be crowded with lovely women who will be up to the task. And Vic can watch the kids.

    Thinking of you. Loving you. xo

  3. Jen~ You have been in my thoughts and prayers for the past several days. I will continue to keep you in my prayers. I am SO glad you finally got a Dr. that would listen! WE WILL ALL HELP YOU GET THROUGH THIS! TErriO~

  4. Hey Sistah,
    I hate that your hair's gonna fall out, but how fun is it going to be to get those wigs! You could be someone new every day of the week! Damn, I should try that! And you could wear hats...lots of cute little cozy ones. We'll find some rexy ones too...hats. I just totally thought of something hilarious--you know how we put those little elastic head bands on little baby bald heads? We could so do that! For just a minute. We would laugh! Laughing is good. Keep doing that.

    AND, say bad words when you need to and kick stuff. Cry the big ol' snotty bubble crying too, when you need to. No matter--we are here for you. We love ya, big! xoxo

  5. I'm glad they're not wasting any(more)time dealing with this. It's good news that it should respond well to treatment...that's got to be a bit of a relief, I would think.

    I like the hat idea, too. That's got me thinking... :)

    Please let us know if there's anything Kim and I can do to help you get through this. Maybe cook some meals? Take care!

  6. Jen,
    Just to let you know Trudy and I are thinking of you. Bald IS beautiful BTW even if male pattern baldness is the cause on this side of our fence. I know you and Vic Rarely look this way for help, but Trudy and I are available if you need it.
    Trudy's mom had 3 different color wigs when she had cancer, quite helpful to determine her mood for the day

  7. Jen, I'm glad you like the new doc! And she's proactive!

    We used to have a big einstein type wig - short hair sticking out all over the place. Perfect for getting attention and would be great with those thick, round joke glasses :). If you went to school, the kids would think there's a new, tall nerdy kid who wears a bra ((sometimes)) :).

  8. Having taught myself to knit I offer to knit you a wig. Just send me your head dimensions and your color/length request. I have a lot of orange and pink leftover from another project... j/s.

    Thinking of you!

  9. Damn. Damn damn.

    I never read your blog because - let's be honest - it's usually full of trivial nonsense... ;) And then you go and post something like this and floor me. And what's ironic is that any words of encouragement that I'm thinking of writing seem...well, full of trivial nonsense.

    Thinking of you Jen - and hoping for the best possible outcome of your chemo.

    PS - Vic is good, Vic is wise. At the very least, I vote for the long red wig.

    Jim S

  10. Thank you for keeping us updated - it's good to feel informed about what's going on. Also really glad they are getting the ball rolling quickly for you after such a long wait / being ignored by your normal doctor for so long. I'll be crossing my fingers for you of course and keeping you in my thoughts. ::hugs::

  11. Jen,
    This just sucks! I won't be drinking orange juice now out of spite! Anyway, I'm really sorry & we're all pulling for you.

    RE: your wig choices I'm rather partial to the "Dog" Chapman mullet (in your blog)! Or an Elvira wig could be quite a look for ya.

    I'm looking forward to seeing you soon.


  12. Hello Jen,
    I'm so sorry that you are going through this, You are in my prayers.
    Love you and thinking of you.

  13. Oh Jen-- i am just now reading this. i am so sorry you are dealing with this so young and as a mama and wife. I am so happy to know it responds well to chemo. My younger brother has been dealing with pancreatic cancer and has done great and the odds were not so good. I know diet and attitude are so important. You for sure have an amazing attitude and strength. He is really tied into local health stuff if you are ever interested... not sure about the medical maryjane or not? Stay strong and I bet you will be more beautiful than you know sans hair... Praying for you-- Kimberly Heye

  14. I did sleep with my phone last night. I'm taking to bed with me every night until you call me, Jen. I thought I might give you a heads up--I dedicated a post to you today--in my own little way. I've been thinking about you all day, remembering every detail of how I felt during (and after) that first session, like it was yesterday. With you always.



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