Part of the answer.

After several days of waiting (cancer helps teach you patience) Dr. Beaven finally called yesterday with the results of the biopsy done last Friday.  As expected, it showed that the persistent lymph node in my abdomen contains Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma cells.  The 6 months of chemotherapy treatments were quite successful at eradicating the diseased cells everywhere else in my body, but for reasons not totally understood, that one lymph node resisted the effects of the chemo.  It must now be dealt with in a different manner.

The biopsy was done last Friday and the results had been expected by about Tuesday.  But Tuesday came and went, and it took 2 more days before the final determination was available.  Apparently the Pathologists had to go back and do some additional tests to confirm their findings.  Although we had forgotten, the same thing happened back in June with the initial biopsy.  Those results were also delayed for additional testing.  Apparently my particular form of cancer is so rare that it is seldom seen in the pathology labs.  If it was something they see everyday, the determination would be made more quickly.  But when it is rarely ever seen, additional testing, and confirmation by other experts, is needed to be positive.  So my advise is, if you are going to get cancer, pick one that is more common and more easily recognizable :-)

While the biopsy results are now known, the various doctors have not yet had a chance to meet and discuss their recommendations.  The results of that consultation probably won't be ready until early next week.  But based on Dr. Beaven's comments, it would appear that they will want to treat that lymph node with a combination of radiation and chemotherapy.  There are two reasons for this combined approach.  First, the chemotherapy makes the cancer cells more sensitive to the radiation.  So this combined treatment is likely to be more successful than radiotherapy alone.  It will also allow the use of lower levels of radiation.  Secondly, the whole reason behind the decision to have a bone marrow transplant, is that my particular type of lymphoma has a strong tendency to recur or come back.  So the longer the period since the completion of the chemotherapy, and the start of the transplant process, the more opportunity for the cancer to reappear.  By combining chemo and radiation therapies, the chemo will help insure that the cancer elsewhere in my body is kept in check.

Assuming that this combined approach is confirmed, the only remaining questions are when it will start and how long it will last.  Hopefully we can get started with this second phase of treatment late next week, and earlier discussions with the Radiologist suggest that it could last as long as 4 or 5 weeks.  So we may be only a few days away from starting daily trips to Duke for treatment.  Does anyone have a helicopter we could borrow for a few weeks?

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