It was August, 1995 and I was living in Scotia, NY, with my wife and 3 kids. I started feeling tired and I wasn’t eating as much. It got so bad that I could not even keep water down. I would get dehydrated, causing me to get taken down to the Emergency Room where I would get hooked up to an IV to rehydrate me. After several rounds of this, I was admitted to the hospital to have an MRI and the scan found two tumors, 1 each in the front and in the back of my head. The neurosurgeon didn’t know what the tumors were but he knew that the tumors, which were about the size of thumbnails, were the cause of my problems. They “lived” in the fluid space in my head and the one in the back was putting pressure on my brain stem and optic nerve, making me nauseous and causing me to see double. I was prescribed with a steroid called Decadron to help shrink the tumors. Once my symptoms were gone, I had a craniotomy in order to remove the tumors. The tumor was biopsied and was diagnosed as “Non-Hodgkin’s Primary CNS Lymphoma”. I managed to take a week’s break from the hospital before I started my treatments. I was able to bring my older daughter to her first day of kindergarten, which made me very happy.
I then started my treatments. First came 10 weeks of chemotherapy, then 25 days worth of radiology treatments; 1 treatment to each side of my head each week day. As of January 1996, I have an annual MRI scan and my oncologist takes a look at the results and ever since, there has not been any sign of the lymphoma.
Over time, I have suffered several “side effects”. I have gotten both of my hips replaced and I also need to get both of my shoulders replaced. I have complex migraines periodically and I have some swelling in my retinas. I imagine that because of my chemotherapy and radiation therapy, my brain has suffered. I have a decrease in cognitive and physical skills, which I am working to relieve.
My brother told me to come down and move to Ithaca with him, which I have. Tim found about the Men’s Breakfast Club and it took me a couple of weeks to get up the nerve to go. I have been going most every meeting since I started going. Even though we all have had cancer our stories are somewhat different. I have recently started going to the Island Fitness Center and have enrolled in beginner yoga classes, I have a workout plan. Finally, I have become a member in the St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Parish. I have 3 things that I need to exercise; my mind, my body and my soul. So far, I am making progress on all 3 things.
The easiest part was getting rid of the cancer. Once the neurosurgeon found out that I had lymphoma, said that they were going to cure it, which was 16 years ago.
My brother Tim, his wife Allison, my niece and nephew have been really helpful throughout the process. I have cognitive problems but I still get answers right on skills tests, it just takes me a long time. I have financial troubles as a result of my cognitive problems and am talked into things. Moving to Ithaca was a great change of scenery for me and Tim and his family have been tremendously supportive.