mantle cell lymphoma (MCL)
I was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) in August 2019 at age 64. It was an accidental find while scanning for a kidney stone. I was late stage 3 at diagnosis with no prior symptoms. I had 4 rounds of treatment finishing at the end of 2019 and followed with an autologous stem cell transplant at the University of Virginia on February 24, 2020.
Along the way, I had a life-threatening duodenal ulcer (Oscar) as a result of the treatment. A stem cell transplant resulted in several infections including a relatively rare lung infection that took 6 months to treat and resolve, C-diff, and other lung and gastric infections. I have generally responded well to the treatment and a year out I am just beginning my re-immunizations and envisioning some normalcy returning.
The nature of mantle cell lymphoma is that it commonly recurs, so I know that I need to stay "plugged in" to the cancer network and the rapidly advancing treatments. The greatest likelihood is that I will have a number of years of remission to enjoy the good life. It is a different life in retirement than I had imagined but certainly manageable after the enormity of what I've been through. I am here to be a resource and to hear how others navigate through living with cancer.
Throughout the stressful days of my lymphoma treatment, I never had a moment’s pause that being a gay man would negatively impact my care. No LGBTQIA patient, or their loved ones, should ever be exposed to that additional stress and fear.