I have an interesting story. in the early 90's, my mom had a lymph node in her neck that kept swelling and swelling. Years went by, and finally in 1996 they removed it. It was full of stage 3 squamous cell carcinoma, poorly differentiated. She went to sloan-kettering and had a radical neck dissection to find no other affected nodes. Many scans, scopes, and the like failed to show the primary tumor. She decided not to take any action at the time and have yearly cat scans of her neck and chest.
All scans were clear until this year. Last month, her scans showed a mass in her mediastium as well as another node on the same side she had the neck dissection. Same cancer. She sees Dr. Stimson Schantz, who was once rated #2 in the world for head and neck cancers. He believes that he has now finally found the primary, a minute spot in the pharyngeal mucosal space. He believes it was there all along and spreading so slowly, it took almost 9 years to go from stage 3 to stage 4. Has anyone heard of anything like this before?
She's having to have radiation before they can take the mass in her mediastium because its too close to her carotid right now. She starts radiation Monday, followed if needed by chemo.
I am terrified. Can anyone tell me what to expect? My mom is 49 and lives alone. I live with my fiancee and I'm wondering if i should move back in to take care of her. Will she be too sick to take care of herself? what are the odds that the radiation and/or chemo will take care of this? Is the fact that it took 9 years to get this far a good sign?
Also, they want to give her a shot before the radiation to "save" her salivary glands, but say the shot will make her feel awful. Anyone have any experience with this? I really don't know what to expect, and i'm scared to death for her.
Sorry for such a long post, wanted to give some background. Thanks in advance!