Saturday, November 5, 2011

Jan's Health Updates

Hi folks,

I'm sure posting an announcement like that on Facebook is in poor taste. But the one-on-one conversations have become overwhelming (and anyway I never like to pass up the opportunity to write a smartass haiku).

Over the past several weeks I have undergone a series of pokings and proddings that confirmed a diagnosis of Class Three Follicular Lymphoma (lymphoma being a cancer of the system that's meant to protect you from cancer. Neat trick, huh?) This is actually a second-time-around for me; I went through lymphoma and treatment back in the late 90s and got a very long, productive, healthy remission. And now it's back.

The treatment has the unfortunate name of R-CHOP. It sounds like butchery, but it involves no knives; just poison. I will be spending one day every three weeks in the hospital starting Thursday, Nov. 10. After three rounds of chemo, they'll scan me again to see what's what. Eventually they'll get the wretched stuff shrunk back down to nearly nothing, and then I expect to get another nice long remission, if not an outright cure.

I expect to keep teaching on my usual schedule through the school year, but will not be jumping up and down to take on extra projects. It's likely that I won't feel very well, but actually I may feel better undergoing chemo, in spite of its toxicity, than I do now. The cancer itself has been making me pretty puny for a couple months. If I lose my hair, I plan to start wearing outrageous headdresses piled with fruit.

People often ask what they can do for me, but it's hard to think of anything. Rick and I really don't need meals, and anyway I have all sorts of tedious food restrictions that make it almost impossible for someone else to feed me. If you have movies (DVDs or videos) that you'd care to lend me, I'd like that; I think I'm going to be spending a lot of hours on the couch this winter. You can post get-well messages here or email me or send a card if you like. I'd rather not talk on the phone. I've never liked talking on the phone, and I'm even more phone-averse now than ever.

I'm not really planning to blog about cancer -- ugh! I'm already so sick of it as a topic! -- but I will post updates here periodically. Feel free to pass the info on to other friends and acquaintances as you deem appropriate.



  1. I'm so sorry you have to go through this Jan. Hang in there. Be kind to yourself. Take what you need to heal. I'm thinking of you...

  2. Oh Jan, so sorry to hear this. But thank you for sharing. In return, I will share a brief story. My mother was 96 when she was diagnosed with lymphoma, an aggressive tumor in her pharnyx that was threatening to strangle her (family practice doc kept insisting she had allergies and gave her Sutafed until I demanded a referral). The ENT immediately diagnosed the tumor. She had it cut out, but it grew back. She didn't want to do chemo because she said she was ready to unlike most of us!!! But he insisted she would die a horrible death without it. Long story short, she had chemo and then radiation. She lost 15 pounds, fell and broker her coccyx, but recovered and was cancer free for another six years before she died at 101 and ten months. So keep that fighting spirit. Much love and blessings.

  3. Being phone averse must be an Oechler genetic trait . . . I love having call waiting and being able to ignore the phone when it rings after deciding that I have no interest in talking to the person who is calling (don't tell her . . . it's usually my mother). I take great delight in walking away from my car knowing that my cell phone is hidden in the glove compartment and not in my bag.

    I wish you well cousin and admire your wry sense of humor greatly! Hang in there . . . and don't forget to watch those movies that you'd never watch any other time! Porn, anyone . . .


  4. I am not happy to hear this at all! I am happy that you are one of the most lively, and spunky people I have ever known.

    I am sure this will help greatly in your healing process!

    I will keep up with your progress, and send you positive energy daily!


  5. Hi Jan,

    Wishing you the most productive -and- easiest R-CHOP process that you can possibly have.