BiographyOn this Easter morning 2008, I have decided to begin a diary of my life's entry into the world of cancer.
I will start by summing up what has happened so far, as my journey into this unchartered territory is still only beginning. I will post regular updates as i begin radiation in the next week or so.
I am a non-smoking, very occasional light drinking, 48 year old white male. 5'8" and currently weighing 178lbs.
THE FIRST SIGNS:
Last summer one day i noticed my right lymph node under my neck was hard and swollen. Having been bitten by deer ticks a few weeks earlier, i thought that it might be the beginning of lymes disease.l b I went to the doctor, had numerous blood tests and all showed negative for lymes or any related tick born disease.
Then i was referred to a Ear Nose Throat guy, and he proceeded to check it out and give me 2 consecutive Fine needle aspiration biopsies. They came back as 'inconclusive' the tissue was 'lymphoid'. Recommendation come back in a few months for a checkup or surgery. With no pain i went back to the ENT doc in November. The lymph node was still swollen but had not changed in size or hardness. A full body PET scan was ordered, which first had to be cleared by insurance. The PET Scan was done in January. It showed that my lymph node was a 'hot spot' on the pictures, which i was told represents 'unusual metabolic activity' in that area and could be cancer. But also it might not be. My ENT recommended surgery, i agreed.
I will begin my experience with a reprint of an email i sent to my friends on Feb 14th 2008 (6 days after my surgery and my being officially labeled with cancer.)
My Dear Friends, My surgery was last friday Feb 8th 2008 to remove a swollen lymph node. During surgery they discovered it was squamous cell cancer.
So now here is the first update on my cancer
I had my first meeting with the doctor/surgeon who discussed my case.
Here are the facts.
The surgery to remove my lymph node revealed during surgery that i had squamous cell cancer. The cancer was contained in the lymph node. The surgeon removed a total of 5 lymph nodes in the chain. 4 nodes were cancerous as well. No adjoining tissues such as neck muscles or other tissues seemed to be compromised so he did not remove them.
The surgeon noticed that my right tonsil was swollen and removed it thinking it could be the 'primary source'. Also several other biopsies in my mouth throat and nose were done.
None of these additional biopsies detected cancer, which actually is not good news.
Squamous cell cancer in the lymph node cannot be the primary source of the cancer. The squamous cell cancer migrated to the lymph node. But the primary cancer source could have been as small as a few cells (5 or 10) i was told, so it is possible that the biopsies would have missed that if that had been the case.
The next step now is a meeting with a radiation specialist. The plan will be basically to blast my neck area and try and kill the primary source and any left over cancer cells without fully knowing where they are. I believe this will happen in a few weeks once my scars have healed some.
This treatment may be all that is needed and semi-annual checkups will be follow to see if it re-appears.
The prognosis is difficult to ascertain as we don't know if the cancer is gone or where it might show up next.
I am in great spirits and very calm about the new reality of my life. For now i feel very much at peace with my self and hope that in some way this has been a true blessing from God bringing me closer to have a better ability to savor the moment and not worry about the trivial.
To be continued...