The fight is on!! The world will now have to deal with two Dan Lyons' battling cancer with everything they have.
As of June 8, 2009, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a fairly common form of blood cancer that affects the ability of the immune system to fend off infection because it creates too many white blood cells. I won't write tons of scientific "stuff" about the disease itself (heck, thats why we have wikipedia). In all seriousness, the National Cancer Institute probably has the best/most accurate details of everything you could imagine.
The first thing I want to do is thank everybody for all of their prayers, thoughts, cards, calls, texts, food, and just their love. It has been so evident and so overwhelming. I love you all so much. At the suggestion of some family and friends, I decided to start this blog so that everybody can join in on the fight and journey with me. I apologize if the first post is a bit fact-based and boring, but I want to get the word out there and get everybody up to speed.
It all started a couple months ago on the first nice day of the year when I went to "impress" my girlfriend Hanna Jo with my stellar tennis ability. After about 4 points, I was completely winded and nearly on my back. I had dizziness, limb pains, and just complete exhaustion way too rapidly. But, since it was the first day in the sun, I just chalked it up to being dehydrated and not quite in "summer shape" yet. A month or so later I had the same symptoms while at a wedding in Baltimore. They were worse this time and I felt my heart racing, so I was pretty scared. I called my family doctor that Monday and when I saw him on Friday he was instantly concerned with my symptoms. I give him lots of credit because he checked up on me all weekend while he was waiting on the blood tests to confrim his hunch.
Then on June 8th, my doctor called me and told me to head to Hershey Medical Center. There was a bed ready for me on the "cancer floor"....which raised a few red flags. The doctors and nurses were all unbelieveably compassionate and understanding. Soon the diagnosis was confirmed and the fight began.
Many of my initial symptoms were related to the lack of blood in my body. The cancer had knocked out most of my good blood, especially the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. So, for the first three days I had 8 red blood transfusions. They said that I had the lowest counts of anybody that they had ever seen walk in the door on their own.....I was quite proud of myself for that...haha. In fact, there was a parade of nurses that kept coming into my room wanting to see the guy with no blood...haha.
After the transfusions and a trillion other tests, including a spinal tap and a bone marrow biopsy (which was a pretty awful experience), they let me go home for a few days before the start of my chemotherapy. After a glorious weekend of chinese food, mcdonalds, and pizza, I went back to the hospital to start my treatement. They have me on a very heavy regimen of chemotherapy that is usually two to three times a week. Since this cancer is most common in children and they have better success rates in children, it was good news that they told me my disease was reacting more like it usually does in children. For this reason, they enrolled me in a clinical trial designed for young, healthy, strapping, handsome (obviously, i'm talking about myself here) adults. They are putting us through the more rigorous treatment that works well on younger bodies.
The chemotherapy is into the second week now and the worst part has been the nausea this week. I thought I was a bit of an "Iron Man" at first, but now it is all starting to catch up to me. The good news is that I am home, able to do everything from outpatient as long as I stay healthy. They have also ramped up my nausea medication so hopefully that helps.
Well, I think I am going to cut this off for today. I just wanted to get this thing up and running. I truly do not have the words or enough hugs/tears to express my gratitude to everybody that I know I have in my corner. My parents, brother Joe, roommates, friends, and family have been here and, I know, will be here through everything. My girlfriend Hanna Jo has been at my side for every step and I'm not sure how this would be going without her. Thank you!
And, lastly, but never leastly, there is prayer. Thank you for the all the prayers coming from the world over. I feel them, I know them, and I return them.
ALL will be well
p.s. The title of the blog was Hanna's idea. Its the title of one of our favorite songs from The Gabe Dixon Band, "All will be well". Its an appropriately, inspirational song....you should check it out.