“You have cancer” (a Thanksgiving-ish story)

A few people I’ve talked to recently who have (or had) cancer told me they can clearly remember the moment when their doctor told them that they had cancer.

In my case I do remember the conversation with the doctor, but that was more of a formality. When I picked up the phone to talk to her, I already had a pad of paper and a pencil in hand, and I was ready to write down the details she was going to tell me. Because in my case I was pretty certain that I had cancer when I saw the ultrasound results a few days earlier.

MCAS/MCAD: What an activated mast cell looks like

At some point somebody was like, “Let’s get a mast cell — a type of white blood cell — from a bone marrow biopsy, magnify it 1,000 times, piss it off, and see what happens.”

The result? Ka-boom! It looks like a little firework went off when it released its histamine, tryptase, serotonin, superoxide, heparin, thromboxane, PGD2, PAF, and other granules.

That’s pretty much what it feels like, lol. I used to tell doctors that it felt like I had been drugged, and indeed, I was.

(Image from this research paper.)

Tryptase blood test for mastocytosis

A doctor at the University of Colorado had my blood drawn two weeks ago to test the tryptase level(s) to see if I have an illness called “Mastocytosis.” This page at has a good description of the symptoms of mastocytosis (as shown in this image), along with the reasons why doctors test the tryptase levels as a way to evaluate mastocytosis, along with other things like anaphylaxis (anaphylactic shock).