Kyle's Lymphoma Assistance

$9,345 of $18,000 goal

Raised by 130 people in 7 months
Hi everyone! My names is Kyle, I'm 30 years old, and I live just outside of Atlanta. I figured I'd start with a little bit about me. I have been crazy for a girl named Latavia for nine years now and we have a hilarious and beautiful daughter named Talia who's 3. My sister Kali, my mom Amy, and I are very close and I really can't thank them enough for all the sacrifice they've experienced, especially this last month or so. I'm a huge horror movie fan, I collect VHS tapes and comic books, love Stephen King books, and I'm very big into bands like Coheed and Cambira, Circa Survive, and Say Anything. Going to the movies, flipping though comic book boxes, and hunting for tapes at thrift stores are my favorite things to do, even if I can't buy anything, I like the hunt. I really appreciate you stopping to read my story!

I've been dealing with severe Venus Reflux in my legs for several years and among other symptoms, I've had bouts of dizziness, feeling weak, and restlessness throughout that time. However, over the course of the last few months, the dizzy spells were becoming blackouts and the weak feelings evolved into being out of breath after just walking a bit, going up a few stairs, or playing with Talia. One evening I couldn't catch my breath at all so my sister, Kali, took me to the emergency room.

On October 8th, after all kinds of testing, I was diagnosed with Lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes. I have a very large mass sitting in my chest, pushing down on my right lung, my heart, and the pathway from my brain to my heart. I was petrified by the news because my sister and I lost a lot of our family at a young age due to cancer. The sound of someone telling me that now I had cancer just made me think of Talia. I spent the week at Emory Midtown where they did a biopsy procedure that would be preformed by going down my throat and through my lung to get a few samples of the mass. Unfortunately, they didn't get the samples they needed so they did a second biopsy procedure, this time going through my throat, just above my collarbone, and down to get larger samples. Once the results came back, it was determined that I had b-cell non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. My doctor at the time actually suggested opening my chest up to try and get as much of the mass out as they could but deemed it too dangerous based on where it it sitting... 

34049788_1540661994373511_r.jpeg(Photo: Latavia, Talia, and I watching some cartoons while I was admitted)

Since then, I've been going to my appointments at Emory's cancer division where they've been amazing at explaining and helping me get through this as smoothly as possible. My doctor really is an amazing person and always very direct and honest with what's going on, which I appreciate very much. I'm about to do a bone marrow biopsy and a PET scan to determine if the cancer cells are anywhere else in my body and to learn what stage of lymphoma I have. I'm getting my port for chemotherapy installed into my chest this week and I'm beginning my first round of treatment on the 7th of November. I'll update the page after all of this to let everyone know the current situation.

The help my little family and I are asking for will go towards prescriptions I need for treatment, the already countless medical bills, and some of our bills at home as we are unfortunately behind on just about everything. All the tests I've done, that entire week I was admitted into the hospital, and all of the things to come are not cheap by any means. I'm in the middle of trying to get medical insurance but it's incredibly difficult and a long process. Especially since I've been a stay at home dad for last year or two due to my legs. Any little bit helps and I'm hoping to be close to or in full remission by my daughters 4th birthday in April. It's difficult for me to ask for help like this but I to swallow my pride because I need the help and more importantly to me, my family truly needs the help.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. Any questions, tips, or motivations are absolutely welcome. Thanks again! 

34049788_1540662021686679_r.jpeg(Photo: My sister Kali and I just before my second biopsy)
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Radiation is finally over! It’s been a really good week and I thought I’d share some updates and stories. It’s been a long several weeks and I’m happy this part is over. In some ways, this was harder than some of the chemo days, mainly due to it being so constant. But I’m happy to not have to make that trip five days a week anymore. I was going to write this update yesterday but on my first official day finished, I spent it in bed and wrestling Talia. All good feelings right now.

Firstly, I’ll get the medical updates out of the way. My chest is very red and blistered in some areas but it’s not as bad as I thought it’d be. I’ve been keeping the cream on it and it’s healing pretty quickly. I got to keep the mask that you may have seen me wearing in other updates and it’s kind of odd having it. I had never noticed the bump on the chest of the mask for my port. It’s just strange seeing it from this side, I guess. My next appointment is for my PET and CT scans on July 1st, followed by my radiation follow-up to make sure all is well on the 15th, and then my oncologist appointment where I’ll find out if radiation had any effect and what the game plan is from there. It’s either going to be better than we all thought or the month+ of in-hospital chemotherapy and the bone marrow/stem cell transplant. We’ll see how it goes. Whichever it is, bring it.

As I’ve said before in the last update or two, my radiation techs were all so great. I can’t thank them all enough. Trish and Dan, in particular, I really got along with as we all have an infatuation with horror. It’s always nice to actually talk horror with folks as I’m usually only doing so online. On my final day, they strapped me to the table per usual. As the machines spun around me and aligned one final time, I heard “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” by Jimmy Ruffin, which I was thinking was a pretty great song. Far better than damn “Xanadu” by Olivia Newton John or “I Don’t Want to Wait” by Debra Cole, both of which I heard on my first day. Just as I was thinking this is a great song, it abruptly cuts off, so I hear nothing but the hum of the machines, ready to begin. I started saying to myself, man, no music on the last day is weird. Then, John Carpenter’s Halloween score came through and it caused the largest smile I’ve had in quite some time, even though it’s tough smiling in that mask. What a great feeling. Mom told me she heard Trish rushing back there to put it on before Dan started the treatment, so thanks Trish! That was so rad. Thank you to Trish, Dan, Jody, Erica, and anyone else that had helped throughout the last few weeks. You guys made it way more comfortable for me than I thought it’d be.

They all came out to watch the bell ringing, which was nice as well. I had seen a few folks ring the bell, but it always seemed like they just rang it on the way out with no audience. I wasn’t expecting an audience, so it was that awkward “stand up on a chair in a restaurant so we can all sing Happy Birthday to You” kind of feeling. But it was great, nonetheless. It was perfect having only mom and Talia there as those are the two who’ve been with me to almost every treatment. Really fun and surprisingly emotional. The walk back to the car, over the windowed bridge was revitalizing.

The best part of the trek back and forth daily is that it’s been a lot of fun hanging out with my mom so much over the last month and a half as she took me to all but 4 of my radiation appointments. The different routes we took each week allowed us to see some really nice (and really sketchy) parts of Atlanta that I had never seen, and she hadn’t seen in a long time. It began jogging her memory of where she grew up and I heard storied I’d never heard before. On top of that, we’ve helped each other through some of the rougher times and really were able to bond more. It’s been a weird year for all of us so that was great.

I’m always trying to keep my hands busy and trying new things. I tried woodworking and painting, neither of which were for me, so I’m moving on to botany/gardening, thanks to the discussions with mom. I think it’s perfect for me to do until I’m able to move more and after hearing stories of my dad splicing roses, my stepdad liking the plant, and realizing most of my favorite comic book characters have to do with plants, it just feels right. Mom helped me come to this conclusion as well and we had a lot of fun talks about it. She remembered some stuff, like adding lime to hydrangeas, but she couldn’t remember which color did what. We did some research one trip home and found that lime turns blue/purple hydrangeas pink and alum turns pink to blue/purple over time. Anyway, it’s nice just sharing things like this with her after the crazy year we’ve had. I think hydrangeas have to be Talia and I’s first flower to plant.

I’ve had a lot of downs the last few months but man, it feels good to be through all of this. I feel happy again, even if it turns out that the radiation didn’t do much of anything, like they feared it would. I’m incredibly dizzy, weak, and tired but screw it. I’m in a positive mood and ready to see some friends before I start the next chapter. Hopefully that will work out. I know my body and feel like the hospital stay is inevitable but it’s all good. I have a month off to recuperate and organize our situation.

Thank you as always for the donations. We wouldn’t be able to afford getting Latavia to work or paying for medications and bills without it. I truly can’t believe we’re almost to half our goal. Some folks have been mad that we haven’t made more money, even going as far as saying some sick cats with GoFundMe pages made more money in just a week. Well, cats are cuter than me, so I get it. I’m happy with the way the donations have come in. They seem to pop up just when we need them to each time. Thank you so much again for that, the shares, the get-well gifts and care packages, as well as the positive energy, posts, and messages.
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Today was 13 of 25 which means I’m officially over halfway through my radiation treatments. We are just barely scraping by with these twice daily Lyft rides, but are still so happy that I’m knocking these out. Luckily, we’ve had some help getting Tay home some of the days, so we don’t have to pay for the Lyft rides in the evenings a few days a week. I’m hoping to have a date night with Latavia one night soon, we really need it. I know Talia is going to her aunt Kali and uncle Karl’s house this week for a slumber party so I’m hopeful we will be able to do something. Maybe break in the Regal gift card my mom got for me for my birthday.

The radiation side effects have definitely taken hold as my throat feels like I swallowed a flaming quarter that just stayed there in my esophagus. My radiologist said he thought it’d happen closer to the end of week three but mid-way through week two, it started getting scratchy. This past weekend, I couldn’t even talk. I’m finally getting my “magic mouthwash” tomorrow and that will help make my eating more bearable. Right now, it hurts to even swallow water but I’m working out some remedies. Honey helps a bit and of course, ibuprofen is a lifesaver. However, all of that doesn’t really help with eating. The magic mouthwash is supposed to numb my throat with each rinse so I can eat. Small meals throughout the day is the key.

Aside from that, I’m just really drained and tired. Dr. Kahn thinks this is mainly from my chemotherapy. It’s contributed to the drained feeling, the nausea, and the constant blackouts/dizzy spells. But again, making it work. I’m still not driving and have been thankful for the help from my family.

In creative news, I’ve been keeping my mind occupied with a couple new hobbies, one of which is thanks so a friend of mine for giving me some inspiration. I’m really into VHS collecting, namely horror, and my buddy Jason has been making custom covers for tapes that are all really amazing. So I shamelessly stole that idea and started designing some of my own. It’s really relaxing and a great way to occupy my mind. I tried painting but I’m terrible at it. I’ve also started writing again, finally. For the first time in a long time, I’ve had new ideas for short stories and even wrote a couple new songs, something I haven’t done since last August.

We had a rad game night with Jason and Aimee, something we haven't done in I don't know how long. It's nice to catch up with friends we don't get to see very often, even though we don't live too far apart. Hoping to do that more often.

Thank you as always for the continued help in way of donations, shares, and messages. It’s all helped so much, and I really am grateful. I know I say it a lot but it’s overwhelming sometimes to have so many caring folks. Special shout out to my mom for taking me every day, even when she’s feeling bad, and to my cousin Jay for taking a day off work to take me today. Talia loved playing with him all day today. Thank you all again and I hope you’re all well!
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Mini-update: Today was the first day since Talia's birthday party that the family got together. Latavia cooked up another amazing dinner and things have been going well, all things considered. It's just nice for us to be able to hangout with Amy, Kali, and Karl together. Today was treatment #8 and I'm starting to feel some of the effects, namely the sore throat and drowsiness. I'm just going to take it as easy as I can, even though Talia is a non-stop playing machine. Sit down games only this week.

This week has definitely been more positive. I'm making plans to see one of my best friends, Josh after I recuperate from radiation. I can't wait for that. It's been well over a year since we've been able to do anything. I'm hoping to do the same with my other friends. Latavia and I have friends in Jason and Aimee who we're trying to see this week too. I need that to keep from going crazy.

In medical update news, as I said, I'm getting the sore throat. They gave me a prescription for some 'Magic Mouthwash' that will coat and numb my throat each time I use it so I can eat easier. I'm not to the point of that kind of pain and soreness yet, but with it starting to hurt this early, I felt it best to go ahead and get it. I got my teeth done, all thanks to Dental Town in John's Creek and can't thank everyone enough.

Thanks, as always, for all of the continued love and support. If you'd like to continue to share the GoFundMe, it has helped us out tremendously. These past several weeks have drained us, both physically and financially, so any help is greatly appreciated. Once I'm back on my feet, I have a lot of paying it forward to do. Thank you all again!
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Today will be my fifth of the twenty-five radiation treatments. I've been asked to change my GoFundMe photo so fit with what's currently going on and that makes sense. I’ve been trying to stay positive and when I’m around folks, I try to crack jokes and whatnot to soften the mood. But it’s honestly tough because it’s not really how I’m feeling. I guess I’ve always been that way though. The radiologists who have been giving me the treatments have all be so great. We talk horror, Stephen King, and they make me feel very comfortable. Shout out to Dan, Trish, and Jody for the help. You guys have been amazing. I know the last few updates have been downers and I’m hoping to have a more upbeat update soon, but I’ve decided to write these honestly and say what I’m feeling.

I’ve been really nauseous and tired but that’s something I’ve been dealing with since chemotherapy and I don’t believe has much to do with the radiation, at least not yet. Nausea is something I can totally manage as I’ve found a few remedies, all of which I’ve covered in past chemo updates if you or someone you know is having a hard time managing it. Depression, on the other hand, is a whole other monster. I can’t shake it and it’s to the point of making me more angry than sad. To be fair, I felt this way pre-cancer diagnosis but there’s just a lot going on in my head right now. There’s a lot of conflicting thoughts and they are all keeping me a bit off kilter. I know those around me all of the time have to be tired of it.

I’ve tried everything I can do to feel better but it’s a battle I’m having trouble overcoming. Deep down, I want to be strong and confident and optimistic for my family but to be honest, I’ve had a really difficult time with that. A lot of that stems from not being alone to think and process maybe? I’m not sure. I don’t want to talk to my family or friends about what I’m thinking because the situation I’m in is already sad enough, I see no need in piling on. So it’s easier to keep it all to myself. Unfortunately, that has built up and is kind of driving me mad.

In medical update news, I have an MRI in a week or so to determine if my blackouts and dizziness stems from the cancer spreading to my nervous system and brain. They’ve done five PET scans now, so I’d assume they’d see something light up with those and haven’t seen anything but once my new oncologist put that in my mind, I told him I needed to have the scan just to ease my mind. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about with this being that I’ve had the dizzy spells for years with my chronic venous reflux in my legs. Speaking of that, it looks like my Medicaid will cover the procedure to somewhat fix my veins in my legs. They are still syncing it up, so I’ll have more on that later. I have an appointment with Vein Atlanta to do a full consultation and to determine what can be done. So, wish me luck for that.

I’m finishing up the dental issues I’ve been living with in the coming weeks as well. This is all thanks to my lifelong friends in Debra and her daughter Monique. Thank you both for all that you’ve done for me and for getting me these appointments. I’m so excited to be able to eat as normal as possible. The goal is to not only be in remission by the end of the year but to have all of my major issues fixed.

I did some research on my last oncologist who withheld information from me and put me through the chemotherapy that didn’t really help much. She had less than favorable reviews, which some stories were even written about how she told patients their cancers were not aggressive and to wait it out, but upon a second opinion, found out they had incredibly aggressive leukemia and whatnot. Sound familiar? Also, I’m among her first patients at Emory. I find it funny that I get a legitimate oncologist with tenure once I get approved for Medicaid and not the bottom barrel newcomer. I’m still bitter about it but holding onto stuff isn’t healthy. I’m just mad that I didn’t begin this cruddy journey with the treatments I’m on now. Would have saved me an extra five months of turmoil.

In brighter news, I got to see one of my best friends, Mason, for an entire weekend this past week and it really lifted my spirits, even if it was only a few days. We went and saw the new Pet Sematary, which is the first time I’ve been in a theater in a long, long time. While the movie wasn’t great, it was awesome to be back in my favorite place and with someone who I used to see every movie with. I dearly miss my friends and wish we could all get together but it’s difficult with us all over the east coast. Mason has checked on me constantly from the beginning and it means so much. He’s even had the great idea of going on a mini vacation in November to a cabin in the woods after I’m hopefully in remission. This is giving me something to look forward to, which is something I definitely appreciate and need.

I’ve been writing a little more day by day, which is something I used to do daily and haven’t in months. It’s a bit therapeutic but nothing motivational. More so just getting out my frustrations. Aside from that, there’s not a lot going on. Just making the trip to get radiation done five days a week and waiting to find out when I go in for the long hospital stay. Hopefully radiation works, but again, my doctors have their doubts. Thanks so my mom and sister for helping so much with getting me to radiation.

Like I said, I’m hoping to have a more upbeat update soon. It’s just difficult right now. Between all of this an the cat I've had since I watched her birth a few weeks shy of 13 years ago ran away, I've been in a real bummer of a mood. She's been gone a week now and I'm devastated. She's been so sweet to me through all of this.

I hope everyone is well and doing great. Thank you all for the support and kind words to not only me, but to my family as well. The GoFundMe donations have kept us afloat and I am forever grateful. I hope to see a lot of you soon. "Oh, I will rise."
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Raised by 130 people in 7 months
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