Dec 08, 2010 - 5:42 pm
Hello everyone. This is a 'club' that I did not wish to join. This forum however, has been a great source of information so far and I thank all of you who have shared your experiences and information. It is good to know that I am not unique and that others have posted stories remarkably similar to mine.
In late October, my primary physician palpated a mass in my neck at my annual physical. I had noticed it only days before and thought it was a swollen gland. The PCP referred my to an ENT, and I was diagnosed on 1 Nov. with metastasized squamous-cell neck cancer. The primary is way down my throat at the base of my tongue, and it has invaded a lymph node in the left side of my neck creating the aforementioned mass; ~3cm in the largest dimension. After the initial dx at my initial ENT visit, it was 'off to the races' with CAT scan, PET scan, labs, etc etc. It seems that the drill is well known here. The pathology report from the thin-needle biopsy that my ENT performed confirmed the dx a few days after 1 Nov.
Nov. 23 I had a laryngoscopy/biopsy of the primary site, and PEG tube installed. Spent an uncomfortable night in the hospital. The biopsy confirmed the dx and also confirmed virus involvement, which I am told is a good thing.
Yesterday I had my radiation simulation appointment. Got my tattoo and my 'Hannibal Lechter' mask made. Today I went back to the ENT and had the PEG tube stitches removed. Much more comfortable now.
Monday I have some lab work done, the the treatment begins at 0900 Tuesday with my first Cisplatin infusion, to be followed up at 1400 with my first radiation tx. I'm to have 37 or 38 radiation treatments, and 3 Cisplatin infusions.
Some personal info: I'm a 57 y/o male, never smoked, light drinker, a veteran firefighter/EMT and former paramedic and emergency-room technician with 36 years in the fire service, 32 years as a career professional currently at the rank of battalion chief. I do I.T. work for the fire department, handle our records management system and work on IT related projects. I've lost 60 pounds over the last year-and-a-half by exercise and permanent change in dietary habits. I heat a very healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, whole grains and a very moderate amount of meat, fish, poultry and dairy.
My spirits are good, I have a lot of support from friends and family. I'm in a good mental state directed toward getting well, and physically I'm more fit than I've been in years. I have enough accrued sick leave to remain off work until early March, and I'm in my third week off from work.
One challenge I have had so far is that my insurance (Aetna) will not cover the Caphosol mouthwash, and I don't know if I should bite the bullet and shell out the $650 - $900 to get it.
I have not exercised much in the past 2 weeks, and I wonder if I will be able to get back into some moderate exercise during my rad/chemo tx? I ask this because even though I've been told that treatment is going to be rough, I really don't know what the physical and mental side-effects are going to be like.
That's probably more than enough for now - I'll be around. Looks like I'm going to have a lot of time on my hands through the end of January.