My sixth chemotherapy treatment was March 31. I hoped it would be my last, but that would depend on what the CT scan I'd get in late April would show - and what Dr. Rado at Columbia Basin Hematology and Oncology would say at my appointment five days later.
Considering just how bleak things looked Dec. 12 - the day of my first chemotherapy, when Dr. Rado said a CT scan revealed my stage 2 lymphoma actually was stage 4 and my prognosis was not great - my hopes and expectations were all over the place.
Three days after those dark moments, the first miracle occurred when the grapefruit-sized growth at the base of my neck vanished.
The second miracle came Feb. 17, when a CT after my third chemo showed significant - even profound - decreases in the cancerous growths ravaging my body.
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On April 28, I was looking for one more.
Family and friends were on edge for the weeks following that last chemo treatment, and especially the days leading up to my appointment with Dr. Rado. I did my best to not put too much hope in the cancer being gone, but that was difficult. The day prior, I was at my Kiwanis club. I let everyone know what the next day would bring. "If you pray, I'd appreciate you praying for me tomorrow," I said. "And if you don't pray, I'd appreciate you taking it up for a day."
I was looking for every edge.
My wife, Melissa, and I walked into the Tri-Cities Cancer Center the next morning, receiving the usual warm greetings from all the staff there. After a brief wait, we went to one of the examination rooms, where my vitals were taken and recorded. The nurse then smiled and said Dr. Rado would be with us in a few minutes.
The next 10 minutes were among the longest I'd experienced. When Dr. Rado walked in, the suspense evaporated as he smiled warmly, shook my hand and congratulated me.
"No evidence of disease," he said, adding he would have been in to see us sooner but he decided to examine the CT scan himself after reading the report, just to be certain.
Feelings of relief and exaltation swept over me. This horrible nightmare was over. Well, not quite. I'll receive another CT scan along with a PET scan in three months, just to make sure nothing bad is lurking about. After that, I'll receive another CT scan every three months for the next year or so, then every six months, then annually. We'll be keeping a close eye on this for the next decade - and a wary watch for the rest of my life.
To come from where I was in November and December to this in such a seemingly short time is nothing short of a miracle.