T Cell Lymphoma – My Story

T Cell Lymphoma – My Story

I’m 20 years old and I have T Cell Lymphoma. April 29th 2004 started as any other day. Before work, a doctor visit was in order. I was visiting him for a few weeks. I wake up at random times in the middle of the night in a pool of sweat and a constant cough that I think it is from smoking. The doctor believes it’s bronchitis, and I ultimately start treatments for bronchitis. That morning would be the 4th treatment.

T Cell Lymphoma Symptoms

San Gabriel Hospital - T Cell Lymphoma
Wishing it would all go away, San Gabriel Hospital

My doctor said my condition was not improving. He decides it was time for an X-Ray. I call my boss, “I’m sorry man, he want’s me to go get an X-Ray because he says I’m not getting better,” I tell him. “Take care of yourself John, let me know your status,” my boss says.

I thought this was strange, however, in hindsight it wasn’t. I couldn’t sleep on my back because I had a hard time breathing. My doctor isn’t aware that I also have been waking up with night sweats and have unexplained weight loss. I’m always tired and I have thrown up a few times. Well one time I didn’t think was so random, I just ate a Burger King Double Cheese Burger on my way home from work and I thought maybe I ate it too fast. I had to pull over on side street near Wilshire Blvd to toss my cookies. It was like that with most symptoms, I had a reason for them all.

T Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma – What is It?

Sergio Saldivar draws a picture of John Regalado
My childhood friend, Sergio, drew me on the board to lift my spirits.

The X-Ray is done and someone walks from the back with an a giant envelope and says, “Take this X-Ray to your doctor, he said to bring it straight to him”. “Okay,” I said. As I walked to my car, I pulled out what they gave me. It was my X-Ray. I held it up to the sun to take a look. No idea what I was looking at, however I could see that one of my lungs what black, and one of my lungs was white.

Immediately, I thought of lung cancer. I smoked, I had just quit because the doctor told me I would get better, but it wasn’t helping. I quit too late I thought. “They want me to take these X-Ray’s directly to my doctor,” I told my boss as I drove to my doctor’s office. “Take care of it,” he said.

When I arrived at my doctor’s office, he came out to the waiting room and sat next to me. I handed him the X-Ray’s and he pulled them out. He said, “You have fluid on your lungs, you need to take these and this note and go directly to San Gabriel Hospital to check into the emergency room. Don’t go anywhere else, I’ll call your mom for you.”. “Is it lung cancer?,” I asked. “No, this is not lung cancer,” he assured me. I let out a huge sigh of relief. “Ok, you’ll call my mom?,” I asked again. “Yes,” he said.

Read more about T Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma

How I was Diagnosed with Lymphoblastic Lymphoma

“My doctor said there is fluid on my lungs and I need to go to the emergency,” I told my boss. “Oh, [expletive removed] that’s not good” he said. I felt a cold chill run down my back. “I know right,” I said nervously. “Hang in there John, don’t worry about anything, please keep me up to date,” he asked. “Will do,” I assured.

I check into the front desk at the ER and they take me to a room where they begin to hook me up to all kinds of devices. I’ve been to the emergency room several times in my life. I was, shall we say, adventurous in my youth. The room they had me in was not like any other. It feels like a quarantine and over the next couple of hours several doctors would walk into the room wearing masks and asking questions. One of the strangest was, “Have you been to Bakersfield lately”. They thought I had TB.

My lungs are clear, however, this is done with a needle in my lung. It’s a unique kind of pain. One that involves your breath taken away in the blink of an eye. It’s only the first many unique pain’s I encounter on this journey. I stay at the hospital and after all the tests, they determine that I have Lymphoblastic Lymphoma.

Continue reading about how I was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma

My Treatment for Lymphoblastic Lymphoma

T Cell Lymphoma Survivor
City of Hope Fountain in Duarte, CA

Fun fact, I prayed to Jesus for Lymphoma. Testicular Cancer or Lymphoblastic Lymphoma is what they thought I had. My doctor failed to mention to me that I had a huge tumor across my chest, probably in fear that I would faint on spot. As a consequence of this tumor pushing on my lungs, they began to fill with fluid. This is sometimes seen in Testicular Cancer. As a 20 year old male, I’m just not up for dealing with my losing my Testicles. At I put my hand together and I asked Jesus to make it Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, because I would rather take on chemo than lose a testicle.

The diagnosis is lymphoblastic lymphoma and the City of Hope in Duarte, CA is my salvation.

Find out more about my treatment for Lymphoblastic Lymphoma

Last updated: July 17th, 2017