December 31, 2015
This first post of the documentation of my cancer treatments will begin with a little background as to how I arrived at this point. Let me begin by telling you that I have severe heart disease in a variety of styles and colors and this has been somewhat of a problematic factor in the treatment of the cancer.
In the summer of 2013, I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma located in the lymph nodes in the left side of my neck and at the base of the tongue. I was informed that neither of these were likely to be the primary source of the cancer, but that source could not be located. My first reaction to the results was “Huh?”… You must have me confused with someone else. I believe you’re reading someone else’s report… I couldn’t possibly have cancer. I’m the one with all kinds of heart disease… but, no… I don’t have cancer……… The universe surely isn’t that cruel to one single individual… I was wrong. I was given a prognosis of twelve months… I was informed of this by a letter through the mail… real personal.
Due to the extensiveness of the heart disease it was concluded that my state of health was too critical to endure surgical procedures to attempt to remove the growths and too weak to endure chemotherapy. The only option remaining was radiation. I was engaged in an eight week program that required radiation of the neck and head nearly every day during that period. A few months after treatment… in the winter of 2014, a partial CT scan was done (partial meaning only of the neck area… due to cost… co-pays on this crap are ridiculous) and indicated that the cancer had been ‘reduced’ in those areas but still lingered.
The effects of those treatments on my physical and mental being will probably make their way into this journal at some point, but for now I’ll stay with what is going on currently. On December 10, 2015 I was given a full PET scan. For those of you who wonder… PET stands for positron emission tomography. They inject you with radioactive isotopes that are used in injectable radiopharmaceuticals which are positron emitters. Cancer cells absorb the isotopes at a faster rate than normal cells, so they glow when viewed in a PET scan. I know… blah, blah, blah… Who wants to hear about the technical details? Well… actually… I like to know every single detail I can pry out of the medical staff. They probably call me ‘Mr. Wants to Know it All’… I ask a lot of questions. Sometimes the medical professionals don’t want to take the time to explain all the little details to you… but my radiology oncologist is just the opposite. She will take all the time you desire for her to answer every single un-normal question that Mr. Wants to Know… wants to know in detail… I am lucky to have found her. She has wonderful patience with her patients.
On December 15, 2015 I received the results of the scan…
Impression: New pulmonary nodule posteriorly at the right lung base with an SUV of 6.6 suspicious for either a new primary lung malignancy or metastatic disease.
They are not certain whether the previous cancer has traveled into the lung or if it is a different type of cancer all together. A biopsy of the lung to determine the type is deemed too dangerous for me to have. The risk involved with a lung biopsy is… that often… the lung will collapse… and in my case would be too high of a risk because it puts addition stress on the heart.
The normal procedure to follow after the results I received would be to biopsy the growth to determine the type of cancer and then surgery to remove it, followed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. But… of course… I have to be the ‘un-normal’…
On December 28, 2015, I went for a CT scan to help determine the exact position of the problem child in my right lung. I am now temporarily tattooed with three black crosses on my mid-section. Three is one of my good numbers of course… and crosses… well… hopefully they are a good sign… I suppose black crosses could go either way. The marks are to help align the radiography equipment to zap me in exactly the right position in order to cause as little damage to nearby organs as possible. That part is a little scary… I have enough problems in the mid-section and don’t need anything new to be fried like they did to my throat, larynx, and taste buds during the first radiation treatments. I’ve suffered with numerous throat and lymph problems since then and sometimes they definitely make me a little weary.
Yesterday… December 30,2015, I headed to the radiology oncologist for positioning and alignment of the equipment.
Welcome to my world…
Results of that appointment was 30 minutes of lying very still on a cold table with my arms over my head, watching the big machine go back and forth across me while taking xrays. I don’t do well with my arms over my head. My heart doesn’t do well with my arms over my head, but that is the way I will have to be… during all upcoming treatments.
I am now the proud owner of nine crosses across my midsection and I think… three small tattoos as permanent markers to align the zapper gadget.
It was a long day. I was very tired. Hopefully a little sleep will help.
Thanks to all who dropped by and suffered with me through this first post. I hope a few of you will follow along with me, to discover just how radiation therapy and dealing with cancer affects the individual physically. mentally and emotionally… I know that there are many of you suffering with many different illnesses, pain… physical, mental and emotional stress… abuse… and even worse encounters that we as human beings must find ways to endure. I hope that this site will help you to know that you are not alone in your suffering… in your trials and tribulations… in your search for hope.
There is so much more to the emotional affects of cancer and dealing with the treatments that are necessary to just stay alive… But there is something that will stay with you through the entire journey if you have a strong enough will to survive… and that is “The Vision of Hope”…
Life is like that, the dust and the dirt
And the liquids that blend with the soul…
We’re never really sure
Of the rhymes or the reasons
While fitting the parts to the whole
Welcome to my journey