Help Ric beat Hodgkins Lymphoma

Hi my name is Dina , I am the wife of Ric who has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (Classic). I decided to put a GoFundMe together as he wasn’t too keen on the idea, but eventually I convinced him this is a time of real need.  I haven't finished my story but find the need to put the GoFundMe up due to the nature of the illness.
We had a small transit business; majority of the work was with the crews that built Wheatstone in the Pilbara. We enjoyed looking after them and they looked after us.  Unfortunately, they did such a good job and built it too quickly and due to the downturn in mining, business slowed. Ric decided to go back working as a diesel mechanic. He had commenced working in the rail workshop. He found it great to be back in a workshop environment, within a great working culture and good leadership. It was all looking good,
but he was finding it hard to stand up from a crouched down position. He would have a feeling of nearly passing out, so had to hang onto something on the way up. He put it down as maybe “I’m not a young fella anymore,”  and the Pilbara heat with some humidity, and a flu he couldn’t shake from Boxing Day. He also said he had a feeling that someone was trying to strangle him.

Little at this stage did he know the Lymphoma was tight around his trachea.  Every cough and sneeze would cause a severe headache, and this too was the Lymphoma squeezed tight around the cerebral vein to the brain, and a blood clot to go with that.

On the night of 14th of February about midnight , I convinced him to go to the Nickol Bay hospital, as this lump was trying to push out of the right side of his chest. That night a fine doctor was on duty. He mentioned his father was a diesel mechanic too and the things they got up to. He was thorough and told him, “This isn't going to be good news,” admitted him to the ward, and organised a CT scan for the next day.

After the doctor got the report of the CT scan and a physical examination, the facts are there. The mass in the lungs is huge, the lymph nodes have lumps on both sides of the body, in the groin and shoulders, the biggest lump being in the left shoulder where he had the shoulder arthroscopy some three years ago.

Looks as though we are looking at stage 4.
What does ‘stage’ mean?
The stage of your Hodgkin lymphoma means how far it has grown and spread. Staging is important because it helps your doctor to plan your treatment.

Stage 4 means there is lymphoma in body organs outside of lymph nodes or spleen, such as in your liver, lungs or bones.

The survival rate  to 5 years is 65%.

19th February ,the doctor organised with Fiona Stanley hospital that he see a thoracic surgeon on Wednesday 21st at 9am.

It was suggested he would fly down, but we made the decision that the whole family go down. So a planning of the drive was made for the 1536km distance, to get down in one day, with all seven kids in daylight. We left Tuesday morning 2am,so the kids would be sleeping some of the distance.

Wednesday 21st February, the cardiothoracic surgeon gave us a run-down of what it might be and pointed out that it was attached to the trachea and cerebral brain vein, and the large mass in the chest was hard up against the heart and pushing at Ric’s right chest. A heart test was carried out and it came out that it had excessive fluid around it. Sometimes when the heart is under stress this happens.
A biopsy was needed, so that was organised that afternoon . He let us take a photo with our mobile of his computer screen of the CT scan. It’s the photo above.

They made the decision that the swollen and biggest lymph node in the left shoulder would be the target, rather than go into the chest. 4 attempts with fine needle aspiration and two core needles and they settled on that.
We waited 10 days for a result, but they still didn’t know what it was. Another attempt would be made; this time they would remove the lymph node completely. This would give them more tissue to play with and find out how to treat this . This happenedon Friday 2nd March.

The next appointment was with the haematologist-doctor on March the 8th. He told us the result, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Classic. He gave two options for chemotherapy, hard intensity or mild. He explained that the hard intensity can kill it quicker, but there is the risk a second cancer can develop from this treatment down the road. The option of mild was taken, but it is still hard on the body, so it is now booked in for Tuesday 13th march, and to expect a good six months of treatments.

That afternoon he had a PET scan (positron emission tomography). This helps with the locating of the cancers in the body. They inject a mixture of liquid radioactive material and sugar,  which find their way to the cancers. They know by physical examination that there are nodes swollen in both shoulders, under the arms and both sides of the groin, but where else and how big they are, the PET scan will show.

Ric has always been happy with his insurance cover for loss of income and life, having payed top level premiums for so many years and would always say that it was more important than insurance for assets, but timing wasn’t great, as business was slowing down, and unfortunately, we missed some repayments on the policy we had held for some 16 years. This was enough to cancel the policy out and same happened with our private health policy. I told Ric not to bash himself over it, just to get better

We do have faith in the public hospital system, starting with the Nickol Bay Hospital, the fantastic doctor that did the original diagnosis, and the nurses that helped me along the way to get an appointment to Fiona Stanley

The experience of the Fion
a Stanley Hospital was wonderful; the building is a show piece, the organisation and  culture of its people are great and the food of the cafes is healthy. I think Ric is so lucky to be treated at such a hospital. It sure makes us more comfortable about being a public patient.

Decisions will have to be made now, as living in the Pilbara without an income doesn’t look possible, with the cost of living so much more and a long haul of treatments in Perth required.  Also with a swag of kids (seven)  to look after, it will be another challenge, but they are good  kids and I’m sure they are ready for some changes.
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Dina Marlina 
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