Saturday, August 15, 2015

More Red Sox Lymphoma

Yesterday afternoon, John Farrell announced that he has lymphoma.

Farrell is the manager of the Boston Red Sox baseball team (my beloved Red Sox). He's the third member of the Red Sox family to announce a lymphoma diagnosis. The other two are pitcher Jon Lester, my hero (diagnosed in 2006), and outgoing team president Larry Lucchino (diagnosed in 1985, before he was with the Red Sox).

Farrell didn't say what type of lymphoma he had, but he did give a few other details: he felt a twinge when he picked up a suitcase, and saw a doctor who found that he has a hernia. During the surgery, the lymphoma was discovered. It is stage 1, localized, treatable, and "very curable." He will start chemotherapy soon, and receive chemo for 9 weeks.  Chemo is, he said, the only option. He also said he was asymptomatic, with no B symptoms (night sweats, fatigue, or weight loss).

It doesn't really matter what type he has, but a cancer nerd can't help but speculate. It certainly isn't Follicular Lymphoma, based on what he says -- curable, with chemo being the only option. Makes me think it's something aggressive, and not some other indolent type. If that's the case, he is, as he says, a lucky man, having caught it when it is stage 1, localized, and before any B symptoms.

He said he was very surprised, and that the last few days have been "surreal." I think we all know that feeling, especially those of us who didn't have any other symptoms. Reading about his reaction brought back some memories.

It brings back some memories of Jon Lester, too, and the role he played for me early on. I've told the story before -- Lester was diagnosed in 2006 and came back the next year to win the deciding game of the World Series for the Red Sox. When I was diagnosed, my son Peter, a big Red Sox fan, felt a lot better about my diagnosis when I reminded him that Lester also had NHL (it wasn't Follicular Lymphoma, but my 10 year old didn't need to know that).

Lester has done well since then (health-wise -- he's playing for the Chicago Cubs now, and seems to be a little uneven this season. 8 wins and 8 losses, but his strikeouts per game almost as high as his best seasons. Yes, I still follow how he's doing).

And I have faith that John Farrell will also do well. He's going to get great care at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Lester thinks Farrell will do well, too.

I wish him much luck in his journey.


I'm adding a little something, a few hours after I wrote the stuff above:

A physician posted his take on John Farrell's diagnosis, to a blog called Blue Bird Banter, which focuses on the Toronto Blue Jays, the team Farrell managed before the Red Sox. I think it's a good post (and not only because this physician goes by the name SuckaMD -- nice shout out to Run-DMC).

Anyway, SuckaMD gives a nice quick breakdown on what lymphoma is, and speculates that Farrell has DLBCL, and is probably getting R-CHOP. (I figured it was aggressive, not indolent, too -- nice to get some back-up from the medical community). He also speculates that, given how early it was caught, Farrell has over a 90% chance of being cured. I'm not a physician, so I wouldn't make that kind of call, but SuckaMD's reasoning certainly seems right.

So if you're interested, check out what he has to say. Again, it doesn't really matter what type of lymphoma he has -- only that he's getting treated. But it's still interesting to speculate. It's what Cancer Nerds do.


One more addition on 8/18: John Farrell starts chemo today, and he will be accompanied by his friend Terry Francona. The two of them were teammates years ago, and then wprked together as coaches. When Francona was hired as manager of the Red Sox, he brought Farrell along as one of his coaches. Francona is now manager of the Cleveland Indians, who are in Boston to play the Red Sox. So Francona will be there for his friend when he starts chemo.

Terry Francona was manager of the Red Sox when I was diagnosed, and someone asked him to write a letter of encouragement to my kids. I still have the letter.

Nice guy. We should all have a friend like him.

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