August 16th, 2018
My first realization that something was changing in the status of my disease came while filming a YouTube video about FTDI microchips. I noticed the cervical lymph nodes on my left side were swollen, took a selfie to assess what they looked like, then kept shooting the video with my body turned in such a way as to minimize the notability of my left neck.
That picture was taken May 29 2018, and at my next doctor visit was 8 days later. The oncologist was concerned about the progression and ordered additional imaging (a CT) to get a better idea of what may be changing.
It's been a few years since I've written about this, so here's the story.
In April 2012 I had some alarming symptoms (lymphadenopathy, weight loss, night sweats) and visited an oncologist for the first time. This picture was taken just before my first doctor visit, and I’m in scrubs because I was a dental student at the time (I hadn’t started the DMD/PhD program yet). After several blood tests and two surgical biopsies I was eventually diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). More specifically, Lennert’s Lymphoma, a rare lymphoepithelioid variant of peripheral T-cell lymphoma in the not otherwise specified category T-cell lymphomas.
Of interest is one of K. Lennert’s early publications from 1986 (there are earlier ones, but this one is open-access). Its title describes condition as “a monoclonal proliferation of helper T cells“, and in its text further characterizes it as “special variant of Hodgkin’s disease characterized by a high percentage of epithelioid cells and rarely containing the Reed-Sternberg cells characteristic of classical Hodgkin’s disease.”