How is lymphoma like a latte?

As stated last post: to say I have “lymphoma” is not exact by any means.

coffeeI’ve come to discover that describing one’s “brand” of cancer shares a lot in common with ordering a drink at Starbucks– the titles are long, nearly guaranteed to be spoken in the wrong order, and mean very little to anyone other than you and your barista (oncologist).

Personally, I prefer a Classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Nodular Sclerosing, Stage IIA… (Oh, and I’ll take it infradiaophragmatic with lymphadenopathy presenting in the illiac, inguinal, and inguinal-femoral regions, please. …also two packs of sugar and one cream.)

If that doesn’t make any sense to you, don’t worry: I’m still probably getting half the terminology wrong. Not because I’ve decided that Hodgkin’s the Raven Bearded has placed a high level curse on my loins and called it a day, but because I really HAVE tried to figure out this doctor speak and am currently struggling with forming complete sentences.

Take heart though! As it is with coffee, it is also with cancer– the jargon can be translated to common tongue with a little effort.

Let’s start from general and get specific:

Cancer*. When cells divide and multiply out of control, often growing and spreading within the body. Cancer forms tumors, but not all tumors are cancer.

LymphNode_HodgkinsLymphoma_NS_SyncytialVariant2Lymphoma. A blood cancer wherein white blood cells called lymphocytes divide faster than normal or live longer than normal eventually causing a tumor. A cancer affecting the lymphatic system.

Lymphatic System. A system of vessels and organs that deliver lymph, a colorless fluid containing white blood cells, throughout the body. Lymph must pass through glands called lymph nodes on the way back to the circulatory system to prevent the spread of infection and disease.

Lymph Nodes. Bean-looking glands found all over the body that are responsible for removing foreign substances from the blood. They are packed full of lymphocytes (B and T types) and swell when fighting infection or disease as additional immune system cells fill them.

Reed-Sternberg Cells. Only makes up 1-2 percent of a Hodgkin’s Disease tumor. They are mutated B lymphocytes which are much larger than normal B lymphocytes. Although they can be multinucleated, they often have a single nucleus surrounded by cytoplasm and then enclosed by a defined cell membrane. This subtype is known as a lacunar cell.

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. type of lymphoma characterized by an orderly spread of disease from one lymph node group to another, the development of systemic symptoms with advanced disease, and the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells inside the lymphadenopathy.

Nodular Sclerosing. One of four main subtypes of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and the most common in developed countries. The lymphoma takes the form of large tumor nodules with lacunar Reed-Sternberg cells present.

(*This is super generalized and could be more accurate. If you want to read about neoplasms, malignancies, and the like, please consult your doctor. I am NOT an expert and am learning as I go.)

There’s more, of course, to the equation. Stuff like positioning and staging and the like…but there are plenty of websites that explain it better than I can at the moment and while this list of definitions seemed like a brilliant idea the night I came up with it, I’m finding my own ignorance tedious now.

…so I think I’ll move on and return to it later.

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