Oct 19, 2010 - 4:21 pm
On April 30, 2010 I was diagnosed with a stage 3, non-metastasizing tumor (about 4cm) at the base of my tongue. A PET scan revealed the rest of my body to be cancer-free and no lymph nodes were affected. In May I underwent surgery for relocation of my opposite-side salivary gland (to under my chin), insertion of a PEG and the dreaded biopsy. It turns out that it was an HPV-based tumor as opposed to alcohol or tobacco induced (I smoked for more than 40 years and quit in 2004). On June 28th I began a treatment protocol of twice daily radiation therapy and weekly chemotherapy. This went on until August 12th (with a one week break in July). After roughly 9 treatment days my radiation oncologist told me the tumor was gone! Of course I completed all of the 28 days of radiation therapy and six chemo treatments, but this early victory kept me going.
I feel blessed because I'm no kid; I am 65 years old and I tolerated this treatment pretty well. After the first 2 grueling weeks of recovery, my side effects began turning around fairly quickly. By September 10th I was eating solid food regularly and quit using my PEG; on September 28th the PEG was removed. By mid-September I was able to begin working again (self employed consultant and realtor).
I am posting this NOT to brag but to let people know that I believe there are two very important factors that can contribute to the success of your treatment: A POSITIVE ATTITUDE and PRAYER (I never prayed before). I feel very lucky and very blessed. Recent follow ups with my surgeon, radiation oncologist, and medical oncologist have confirmed that the tumor is still gone. I am keeping my fingers crossed until my follow-up PET scan on November 1st. Wish I had found this discussion board while I was going through treatment as I am sure the additional support would have been very uplifting. I know that this "victory" doesn't yet put me completely out of the woods, but it is a great feeling anyway. Whatever time this bought me I am grateful. After 25 years in the Army, 3 combat tours in Vietnam, being twice wounded and successfully completing 214 parachute jumps (not to mention born and raised in Brooklyn, NY)I was pretty sure nothing scared me. The cancer diagnosis changed that and took me down about 100 points on the "cocky" scale.
I am here for anyone who wants to chat. No matter what point we are in during our cancer journey we have to support each other.