Keeping Your Mind in the Right Place: Dwane's Story


This two-part article was written exclusively for by Dwane Reed, a lymphoma survivor. He shares how he fought through his illness and who he thanks for being alive today.

Late in the year 2012, my partner and I were invited over to Dr. Brown and his wife’s home in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, for dinner.

Their daughter has 1p36 deletion syndrome. They asked us to bring the hemoglobin machine with us to test Carlie. She was a 2.0 (normal for a woman is 12) so they decided to test me as a control and I was 9.5 (normal for a man is 14). All other adults were spot on.

This sent me to the doctor for blood work, and he came back two weeks later asking me where I was bleeding as my iron levels were way out of range. I told him I am at the gym five days a week, run 5ks, 10ks and half marathons and was not bleeding anywhere. Well, as it turned out, I was bleeding internally, and he sent me to get a colonoscopy.

A Sudden Shock

On Monday, Jan. 28 of this year, I woke up from a colonoscopy to hear the words: "The doctor wants to see you back in two hours. He found cancer." I was in shock and did not know what to think. I began a lengthy process of trying to wrap my head around the fact that I was not sick yet had cancer.

The doctor explained to me that I had colon cancer and would have part of my ascending colon removed and would not have to have "the bag." He said it was hereditary and that my parents and siblings all needed to be checked yesterday. He instructed me to stop at the hospital for blood work as they began to identify exactly what kind of cancer and the stage I was in.

By Tuesday afternoon he called me and stated that it was not colon cancer but lymphoma. I got a CT and chest X-ray at the hospital on Wednesday. On Thursday I met with oncology and the doctor told me that pathology was saying non-Hodgkin’s diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, stage two or three.

Confronting more Challenges

She did a bone marrow biopsy in her office that day and lined out a PET scan for me on the following Wednesday. I met with her on the Thursday following the PET scan, and she was shaking her head. Pathology was torn between the original diagnosis and they were leaning toward Burkitt’s lymphoma. I was just stage I since it was only in my colon and not out in my lymph nodes. Friday I met with the surgeon to discuss a port and to schedule that.

During this time I was researching every website I could find in order to understand what was happening. My emotions were up and down. I would be taking a bath and just start crying. I questioned, "Why me?"

In Part II, Dwane discusses how he survived cancer and his advice for others.

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