When people find out about Ri’s cancer, they often wonder what prompted the numerous tests that led to detection and, eventually, diagnosis. Here’s the story…
17 May 2014
Our whole family had traveled to the US for a vacation. As holidays go, I had jampacked our schedule from Day 1 of arrival in New York. Ri complained of feeling tired but then, so did the rest of us. After traveling 28 hours from Manila via Frankfurt to New York, and with nights and days reversed, who wouldn’t be? Around that time, she already had cough that was relieved by medicine. It wasn’t until a week later when we went to Orlando when her cough progressed into a productive one. Still, she’d suffer through it in the morning and with meds, be coughless the rest of the day walking around the theme parks.
8 June 2014
More jetlag later, we were back home but it wasn’t until the week of June 16th when her cough seemingly became worse. Then again, others were sick with cough and colds…we didn’t think it was anything alarming. Meanwhile, Ri was still going to the gym, trying to get her fitness level back.
19 June 2014
She came down with a fever. Three days later, although temperatures weren’t too high (yet hearing dengue stories), I started to worry. We went to see a doctor who gave her antibiotics. Past Day 3 of the meds when it was supposed to already kick in, the fever was still there and she was feeling much worse.
30 June 2014
By this time, she had a chest x-ray and PPD (tuberculin test) done. Chest x-ray had findings with recommendations for a 2D echo while the PPD turned out negative (meaning it’s not tuberculosis). Her pediatrician recommended she get a MRI of the chest with contrast.
1 July 2014
Blood tests done to make sure creatinine levels were normal (required for MRI). Blood count a bit lower than normal.
3 July 2014
MRI scheduled for 11am actually started at 12nn. By 1:15pm, Ri was all dressed, ready to go home. But just then, the resident in charge at Radiology asked us to wait while she called our doctor. Not too long after, Dr. Carolyn Butler, Ri’s pediatrician since she was a baby, comes to tell us she has Pericardial Effusion (fluid around her heart) and a huge Mediastinal mass. She asked that we go for a 2D echo.
The Echo revealed that too much fluid was pressing on Ri’s heart and that her atria were collapsed. This was considered a medical emergency as she could suffer a heart attack soon. She was admitted then.
5 July 2014
Countless blood tests after, Ri’s Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon, Dr. Karl Reyes, drains about 500 cc of fluid, attaches a pericardial drain, and takes a sample of the mass for biopsy.
8 July 2014
Biopsy results came in. Although the pericardial fluid did not show signs of malignancy, the mass was positive for Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma, nodular sclerosis.