For those of you in the “know” about Family Guy, you’ll recognize my title there is a play on a sketch they did at one point. I always found the little jingle humorous and, now that I have slightly more knowledge of what’s going on with my lymphatic system, I’m more ready to have a laugh about it. The best way to share my current knowledge of what’s going on with you all is by simply sharing the email I already wrote up for my sister. She asked me to explain it in “non-Latin terms that non-medical people like me could understand,” and that’s what I did.
Well, the very basic idea is that my 10 or 12 swollen lymph nodes are filled with many numerous small tumors, called lymphatic follicular hyperplasia. At this point, they are not 100% sure what is causing them or if they are cancerous. The surgeon, in the very few minutes he was able to spend with me before having to rush out the door to emergency surgery, informed me that they are about 70 – 75% sure it isn’t a form of lymphoma at this point, but he didn’t want to declare that I’m without it until all the other tests come back.
There is also a small chance that these tumors are being caused by my b-lymphocytes (the immune cells that steal the baddies and bring them back to the follicular region of lymph nodes for processing and destruction) grabbing up and destroying some other type of metastatic cancer. They’ll have to run some tests on those individual cells to determine that though and if anything comes back funny I’ll probably wind up having a full body CT to hunt down the culprit.
Another cancer concern lies around these tumors being idiopathic (or of unknown cause). That in and of itself doesn’t mean I currently have cancer or anything, but, if these tumors don’t get themselves worked out and removed (which would mean the removal of all affected lymph nodes, and that could lead to lymphedema), there is the very likely potential for them to necrotize and that necrotized tissue almost always causes lymphatic cancers. Now, that wouldn’t be until 20 or 30 years down the line, but if I know I can prevent future cancers now, I think I’d like to do that. Ya know? =P
The very most likely scenario, however, is this: many forms of moderate to severe autoimmune disorders first come to a patient’s and their doctor’s awareness when these types of tumors pop up in the lymph nodes through out the body. Since you and mom and dad and so many other family members have or have had some type of autoimmune disorder (thought mostly of the thyroid so far), the likelihood of me developing one has always been extremely high. The two that are most likely for me because of biological and family factors, as well as the fact that I have many of the symptoms of them, are Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or Sarcoidosis. Of those two, I believe SLE is a closer match for me based on the symptoms and my nursing knowledge of it. So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that that is what has caused this whole mess.
Yes, I think it’s super weird to hope for such a (sometimes) devastating autoimmune disorder, but, the way I see it, it’s by far the very best option of those presented to me. It can never be cured, but they have found many very helpful ways to help prevent and lessen the extent and the length of flare ups with medications in this day and age because it has been well studied and researched.
Now, like I said, there are more tests they’ll be running in the next week that I won’t find out the results of until I see my PCP next Friday. But, at this point, I’m a little more at ease with what I know.