John's Journey in Fighting Lymphoma

John Ishaq is 38-years old and has been diagnosed with Primary Lymphoma of Bone (PLB).  Primary lymphoma of bone (PLB) is an extremely rare type of cancer starting in the bone. Lymphoma usually starts in the lymph nodes and lymph glands. PLB, however, starts in the bone. This is distinct from lymphoma which starts in the lymph notes and then spreads to the bones.  Nearly all PLBs are classed as Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. 

Our journey began on March 23, 2018.  Well, actually our journey began several months ago but March 23rd was the first time we heard the word cancer and in that one moment everything changed for us.  You read all these stories, know friends who've suffered from it, may even have some older relative or distant family member who has been affected but you never think it will happen to you.  But here I sit, almost three weeks later, listening to the drip of an IV and watching my best friend in the whole world finally be able to sleep.  I'm Jessica by the way.  John's wife.   

John began to experience back pain in October or November of 2017.  We didn't think much of it at first.  At that point, we had been 2 years into the remodel from hell on our house and after so much physical labor we figured "of course your back hurts."  It got a little worse and still he pushed through.  In February his pain became really bad and one day the pain became so unbearable we went to the Emergency Room.  He was not able to walk or sit or sleep.  His back and hips were killing him.  He had MRI of the lumbar spine and on Friday March 23rd John went to a spine surgeon to review the MRI findings which showed a compression fracture.   An hour and a half later John still hadn't called me so I call him and ask what is taking so long.  He says "the doctor is on the phone with the radiologist.  He thinks I have myeloma."  Myeloma!!  As in cancer!  I immediately hop in the car and rush to the doctor's office.  By the time I got to John he was sitting in the parking lot and you can only imagine the magnitude of emotions I walked into.  We have 2 little kids, John is so young, we have a goal of reaching a 75 year wedding anniversary.  Needless to say, we had a long, rough weekend.  We saw a hematologist/oncologist on Monday.  Still in a fog and barely holding it together we began the nonstop doctors' appointments, CT scans, PET scans, blood work and more blood work.  All this while we try to act normal in front of the kids.  One by one, different types of cancer and auto immune diseases were ruled out.   

About one week later John got the go ahead to fix the compression fracture in his spine.  He underwent back surgery on Monday, April 2nd.  It was an outpatient procedure.  By Monday night John is saying his hip hurts, really, really bad.  He is not able to put any weight on it.  Tuesday morning we have another appointment with the oncologist.  We review all the findings of the PET scans and blood work and we finally got the diagnosis of lymphoma.  Albeit, this diagnosis is better than myeloma but it is still cancer.  It has now been narrowed down to PLB.  John has tumors in his back, hips and pelvis.  All of these areas are at risk of fractures and he is in a lot of pain.  We have been in the hospital for three days now.  John is undergoing his first round of chemotherapy as I type this and he will begin radiation on Monday to strengthen his bones.  

It is still a shock and we are taking it one day at a time.  John will have 6 courses of chemo, one every 3 weeks.  He will also need 6 sessions of radiation.  We are trying to remain positive and not stress, which is much harder than you'd think.  Thank you to everyone so far who has been here for us.  Your love and continued support is much needed and appreciated.  John needs all the help he can get with his journey in fighting this lymphoma.  We are determined to beat this! I will keep everyone updated.
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Jessica Ishaq 
Simi Valley, CA
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