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Innes Thomson – Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL)

I’m Innes Thomson (54). A Scotsman born and bred, I have lived in Sydney for 22 years. Co-parent of 2 teenage boys.  I live with my loving supportive partner, Kerry Ann.

In November of 2021 I felt an uncharacteristic swelling at the back of my neck; I guess where my spine and skull meet. An ultrasound required no follow-up. In January of 2022, I felt a lump in my upper thigh; I think almost my groin; it felt about the size of a small mango stone, mobile, not painful, and soft to the touch. It felt deeper than ‘just below the skin’. This Lump did not decline over the subsequent 6 weeks. I don’t think it grew, but it didn’t shrink.

A visit to the doctor, ultrasound and more low-level tests suggested Lymphadenopathy indicative of some form of Lymphoproliferative disorder. I was sent for more tests, CT scan, PET Scan, Gated Heart Pool Scan and Bone Marrow Biopsy, and core biopsies from my Lump in my groin.

What seemed like an aggressive testing regime took 3 weeks in total, about 14 days being the duration of the tests, with a wee while to wait to start and then the wait for the results. That wait was filled with angst, trepidation, and worry. My GP had suggested that I get ready for a serious diagnosis and that, if I did have some type of Lymphoma, I should expect a lengthy course of treatment. He was careful to explain that he could not prognosticate as that is the role of the specialist; however, he assured me that it needs necessarily not be gravely bad but to expect some kind of tricky news.

On the 12th of April 2022, I met with my Haematologist and was given the diagnosis of Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL).

I believe MCL is rare by comparison and, whilst incurable now, is very treatable. I was put onto the NORDIC protocol of Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy and then scheduled for a Bone Marrow Transplant (also known as Stem Cell Transplant). This transplant is known as Autologous, meaning I am the donor of the stem cells. Those cells will be treated and reintroduced to my body during transplantation.

Now in June 2022, I have just received my 3rd round of Chemo; it’s day 2. My side effects have been quite broad but not so bad that I’ve had to do anything other than take a rest from time to time. I also must be alert to infection control and put what I learned during COVID lockdowns into practice. No busy, crowded places, masks when in the company of others, be that in the supermarket or a restaurant say.

My Chemo is alternating types, 3 weeks apart, for 6 rounds totaling 18 weeks. There is a lot to take in, a lot to learn, and many questions that arise, some easier answered than others.

My care team is nothing short of amazing. They are diligent, empathetic, seem to care a lot about what they do and pay great attention to detail in doing their job; I can’t thank them enough. Extraordinary people, indeed.

I decided to keep a blog/ journal. Principally so that I could look back in the future once I’ve reached remission and something for me to look back upon with family once this is behind me and life has returned to normal.

I have noticed that on a day-by-day basis, my emotions can change. They may be, ‘why me’ one hour and some anger the next, followed by acceptance and a need to focus on what’s happening and being healthy to help my recovery journey.

At this stage, mid Chemotherapy, I am optimistic and looking forward to the treatment progressing to allow me to put this behind me and move on with life.

My blog: https://www.haggisdownunder.com/ (NOTE: Language warning!!)

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