"Even with follicular lymphoma, achieving total focus is in my blood."
During a routine checkup, Bob’s doctor found some enlarged lymph nodes, which Bob had noticed before, but thought it could be a build-up of scar tissue from years of practicing martial arts.
Shortly, after this checkup, he was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma. Bob was stunned and also worried how he would tell his family. However, he was quickly motivated to begin researching and connecting with healthcare providers to determine a plan of action to manage the disease. In addition to conducting his own research, Bob got opinions from three different healthcare providers. All gave him significantly different treatment options, confirming that there is not one set standard of care.
One oncologist actually asked him, “What do you want to do?” and this surprised him. The doctor emphasized that it was important to be comfortable with the treatment he selected and to understand the pros and cons. Partnering with his wife, a former speech/language pathologist who enjoys researching and understanding the minutia of complicated matters, this collaborative approach resonated with Bob. In his experience, Bob found that oncologists treating follicular lymphoma evaluate the best treatment course based on a variety of factors such as, age, medical history, and quality of life objectives.
Ultimately, Bob decided to initially pursue a watch and wait approach. He felt comfortable with the decision to hold off on immediate treatment after his doctor explained that he was most likely living with follicular lymphoma for a few years before his diagnosis. Together, they made an upfront decision about when the right time to start treatment would be if Bob’s cancer progressed to a given point.
While watching and waiting, Bob and his wife continued to research treatment options and learned more about the immune system and the potential impact from follicular lymphoma treatments. Bob changed his lifestyle by radically improving his diet, getting more sleep, and continuing his rigorous exercise regimen in case there was a need to pursue treatment. After nine months, Bob began his first treatment course.
Looking back, Bob found it was empowering for him not to have to make a rash decision following his diagnosis, hearing a few different expert opinions, and having the confidence to ask a lot of questions. He shared, “I tried to focus on not letting my diagnosis and ultimately treatment negatively impact my life. Your mental attitude is half the battle in your survivorship journey, so I worked on staying positive and talked openly about my condition.”
Now in remission, Bob sees his oncologist periodically for normal medical tests to monitor for relapse. He was pleased to share follicular lymphoma didn’t stop him from achieving a long-term goal.
“I actually passed my 3rd degree black belt exam one month before I started treatment,” Bob noted. “My goal was to keep going and earn 4th degree, which I was able to achieve about one and a half years later, while living with follicular lymphoma. I was really motivated to get back to normal life and I encourage others living with follicular lymphoma to do the same, striving for a positive mindset throughout their own journeys.”