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.