How MD Anderson’s pathology team changed my life

One Friday last October, I felt three tiny bumps behind my right ear. By Monday, they were the size of marbles. I panicked. It’d been only two months since I finished chemotherapy following my February 2017 Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis. At the time, I was doing my residency at a hospital in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I showed the bumps to an oncologist there, and he urged me to get them checked out immediately. After a CT scan, I had two of the three lymph nodes removed so they could be biopsied. When my Lake Charles oncologist called me with the results, he asked if I was sitting down. I knew what was coming next: “Your cancer is back.” Unclear pathology results and an uncertain lymphoma diagnosis The oncologist said the pathologist was convinced my lymphoma had returned but couldn’t subtype it. As a result, my results were being sent to two other medical centers in Louisiana for review. Six different pathologists reviewed my case, and none of them could figure out what was happening. One even said that I might’ve been misdiagnosed the first time around. My oncologist told me to seek care at MD Anderson because no one in Louisiana was equipped to handle my case. When I called to set up my appointment, MD Anderson requested all of my medical information, including all of the tissue samples taken since my initial lymphoma diagnosis. Additional pathology tests reversed my diagnosis I traveled to Houston a few days later and met with Dr. Nathan Fowler. He tenderly explained to my husband and me the poor prognosis that often accompanies a...