Monday, June 16, 2014

Hurry up . . . and wait

Went to the oncologist today hoping to get my cancer staging diagnosis and the "plan". Well, that happened, sort of.

The PETscan showed the cancer was localized but wasn't conclusive to show if the lymph node was involved as well. The MRI of the neck done on Saturday was to provide that clue. Unfortunately, the oncologist hadn't received that report yet. Now mind you, I had a brain MRI done at the same time and she received the brain MRI report, just not the all important one for the neck. --Oh, in case you are wondering, the brain MRI was normal, or as normal as I'll ever be!

Bottom line is, we caught the cancer early. Because it is an aggressive form of cancer, the treatment will be aggressive. Three doses of chemotherapy spaced three weeks apart, radiation five days a week for seven to eight weeks. And they have changed the prognosis of no hair loss to possible hair loss. Sigh.

If my health insurance carrier gets their act together with all the approvals, we should start the chemo and radiation on Thursday. I hope the approvals come through. While I am dreading the pain they tell me I will be in, I do want to get going with the treatment. If I could have started treatment the day I was told I had cancer, I would have done so. Waiting adds to the stress.

Speaking of stress, I have a few theories on ways to reduce stress using creativity. I will be blogging about my theories and personal experiences in putting my theories into action as I go through this Cancer whirlwind. If you are interested in stress reduction through creativity, visit:

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Just a Sore Throat

The sore throats started in August 2013. Scratchy nuisances that had me wondering if I was coming done with a cold or if an air-born irritant could be to blame.  The sore throat progressed and I went to an urgent care facility where they did a strep test. It was negative, but since a post-nasal drip had begun they gave me an antibiotic and called it a sinus infection.

The sore throat improved, but didn't go away. Since I have an health plan that allowed me to see a specialist without a referral, I set up an appointment with an ENT, Dr. Peter Kaiser.

Dr. Kaiser did an laryngoscopy of my throat. He saw a white spot straight back in my mouth that looked like a sore, the type you would get on the roof of your mouth when you eat something too hot and burn yourself. He ordered a CT scan and a barium swallow scan to see if there was anything else since my throat pain extended to the juncture of my head and neck. Both of those tests were negative for anything concerning. Dr. Kaiser prescribed a steroid to shrink the swollen tissues and a nasal spray to help control the post nasal drip to give the sore spot an opportunity to heal. I went back a couple of months later for a laryngoscopy recheck. The white sore at the back of my mouth was gone, but I was still suffering from sporadic sore throats and sometimes earaches. Dr. Kaiser suggested allergy testing. I didn't think it was allergy based and since it was almost Christmas I put off allergy testing.

By February 2014 the sore throats were back on an almost daily basis along with earaches. I did an Internet search on chronic sore throats and found several articles about acid reflux, particularly LPR, or silent reflux as a possible cause. I knew I had GERD, I was already taking an acid pump inhibitor medicine, and the symptoms matched, so I started on a low acid diet, eliminating carbonated beverages, citrus, tomatoes, onions etcetera from my diet and started buying water that had a higher PH value, like Evian and Fiji water. These steps did relieve the worst of the pain, but did not make it go away. In March I made an appointment with my gastroenterologist. This gentleman doubled my dose of medicine and said to come back in August. Needless to say, I was less than happy with this doctor's approach.

By April the sore throats were 24/7 and were accompanied by an earache in my left ear. I suffered through it since the change in diet did help reduce the pain but by mid May I had had enough. I went back to Dr. Kaiser. He did another laryngoscopy and this time saw some bumps on the root of my tongue and on my left tonsil. He said I should have these biopsied.

May 30th the biopsies were taken. On June 9th at 3:30 pm I received the results: the tonsil tumor was benign. The base of the tongue showed basaloid squamous cell carcinoma.

Medical literature on the Internet says basaloid squamous cell carcinoma (BSCC) is an aggressive form of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Causes are generally tobacco, alcohol, or HPV.

That diagnosis was like entering a whirlwind. Wednesday, June 11th I met my oncologist and radiologist, both dynamic women (more on them as this blog continues). Thursday was a PETscan, Friday a mask was made to hold my head rigid in place during radiation, and today I will have an MRI of the head and neck. Monday, June 16th I will meet with my oncologist to learn the battle plan.

And so it begins.

Friday, June 13, 2014

New Direction for this Blog

When I created this blog in 2009, I had grand ideas of what I was going to do with it. It was just one of many directions I was going in as I was unemployed and trying to find myself. And thereby lay the problem, not the unemployment, but the too many directions, too many projects. So the blog idea never got off the ground.
Until now -- 2014
This blog will be my cancer journey blog to share with family and friends and anyone who needs to understand this cancer journey.