Introduction from Switzerland

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DaveJay
DaveJay Member Posts: 8 Member
edited December 2013 in Head and Neck Cancer #1

Hi, my name is David Jellison (hence, DaveJay).  

My wife and I moved from Denver, Colorado to Geneva, Switzerland about a year ago, in connection with my work with Siemens.  Just as my current high-pressure project came to an end, I caught up with some administrivia, and finally got that physical the Swiss Social Security system (?!) required.  I passed the physical with flying colors - ok, maybe my blood pressure was a bit high, but blood work and all other indicators were normal.  2 weeks later, around 12 Nov, in a follow up with my new doctor about my blood pressure, I showed him a lump on my neck that suddenly appeared earlier that week.

Well, several scans and appointments with a couple ENT docs later, and several weeks later, I found myself hearing the dreaded words confirming Oropharyngeal Cancer at the base of the tongue, on the left lingual tonsil.  It was about 2 cm in diameter, and the lymph nodes on the left side were affected to about golf ball sized.  Surgery was scheduled quickly at the University of Geneva Hospital (Hopitaux de Universitaires de Genève), and the ENT Surgeon removed a bunch of stuff, including the lymph nodes, most of the carotid artery and the (mumble) muscle.  (I'll get a better inventory of what went and what remains from him this Friday).  Over 8 hours of surgery - the surgeon said it was worse than they expected and that it had been there for many months.

I woke up in recovery around midnight and realized that I wasn't in Kansas anymore.  I was having trouble swallowing and breathing.  If I concentrated somewhat, I could breath easily, but if I dozed, I would choke on the saliva.  After a couple rough hours of coughing and spitting and shivers and sweats, I guess they finally knocked me out because I woke up coughing and spitting in my hospital room mid morning.  It took a couple days before I could eat and drink small amounts, but the healing went well and I was able to go home after 4 nights postop.

Fortunately, the hospital is 6 blocks from our apartment, and Sunny, my wife, was with me most of the time - she even slept one night on a cot to keep me company.

I am now recovering from the surgery at home and each day is a little better, with more and better sleep each night.  I went for a (slow) run the day before yesterday and have been doing other aerobic workouts, usually followed by a nap.

I have now discovered this site, and have been reading about the upcoming Radiation and Chemotherapy.  The treatment plan here sounds very similar to what I see others describing at Stanford and elsewhere, with 35 Radiation sessions and with 3 Chemo sessions during that time.  I'll be getting more details next week.  I now realize, from reading some of the discussions here, that recovering from surgery is nothing compared to what I will be going through in the coming months.  Yikes!

My youngest son, 22, is now visiting from Denver over the holidays, and my eldest son, 29, will be visiting at the end of January, but I doubt I will be skiing with him then.

This group seems full of information and support, and I'd like to participate, if that is okay.  I have already learned a lot, and am working my way through the materials on the Superthread.

Thanks, Dave, Cancer Survivor, in Geneva

Comments

  • CivilMatt
    CivilMatt Member Posts: 4,723 Member
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    welcome

    DaveJay,

    Welcome to the H&N forum, so sorry you find yourself here and can say this should not ruin your time abroad.

    Yes, the side effects from treatments can be rough, but there are many tips, tricks and medications to help you through.  What it comes down to is your body’s willingness to adapt to treatments.

    The superthread is a good read, just as important are your team and cancer center, you want a home run on this one.

    It seems to take forever getting started, but once you hit the queue it goes fast.  While we each had our trying times, very few of us experienced all the side effects.  I would hope you have a smooth ride.

    Matt

  • phrannie51
    phrannie51 Member Posts: 4,716
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    Hi Dave....

    I'm glad you found this forum....I'm sorry you had to look for us, but you managed to find the best forum on the internet....knowledgable, compassionate, and experienced folks here.....you'll be tucked under some wings, and your emotional comfort level will even out.  The people here helped me so much when I was so so scared.....

    I had pretty much the same treatment as you will be getting....35 rads in conjunction with 3 large doses of chemo, 3 weeks apart.  I had NPC (nasopharyngeal carcinoma.....that's behind the nose), so had another 3 large doses of chemo after radiation was done....it's not a walk in the park, but it is doable.....and everybody shares some things (no spit, and no taste are the main side effects during treatment)....but the other side effects seem to affect some and not others.  I didn't have a single problem at all eating or swallowing until I started the second 3 rounds of chemo......

    Be sure to read the Superthread....it's the top discussion on the message board.....it is packed full of information on about any question you might ask.....but don't be nervous about asking anything you want.....it seems there is always someone on line to answer...even if it's jsut a bad time, and you want to talk....we are here. 

    p

  • donfoo
    donfoo Member Posts: 1,773 Member
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    welcom

    Hi Dave,

    Soory to see you here but also happy to see you here. There is lots of information and folks here who can guide you along. Read and ask away if you still have questions. I bet you are glad to be in Switzerland as their heath care system is best in class; you are in good hands and yes, the rads are tough but you will get through it.

    Don

  • debbiejeanne
    debbiejeanne Member Posts: 3,102 Member
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    dave, just want to say

    dave, just want to say welcome but sorry you have the need to be here.  i had laryngeal cancer so can't answer questions for you but wanted to say come here as often as you please.  someone is always around to answer any questions you may have or if you need to vent, hollar, shout, or anything else you may need.  we are all here to encourage you and cheer you on.  please keep us posted on your progress.  praying for you and your family.

    God bless you,

    dj

  • patricke
    patricke Member Posts: 570
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    WELCOME

    Hey Dave, I am sorry that you have been attacked by the beast, but welcome to the discussion board, it is a great place to be for information and support during all phases of your journey.  It is great to hear that you are literally up and running already.  Just remember that this journey is a marathon, so pace yourself, and know that some days will be better than others, but just keep it movin forward and you will get to the recovery finish line.  I was BOT stage 4 in 2000, so far, so good.  I like to think of us as not only survivors, but thrivers, because as we move forward in our recovery and beyond, we get back on our various horses riding again for the work and fun that we had to set aside for awhile.  So Dave, survive and thrive on, you can do this!

    PATRICK

  • Skiffin16
    Skiffin16 Member Posts: 8,305 Member
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    Welcome Dave...

    Sounds like you are in the right place mentally...

    This forum has a ton of awesome people, always willing to help you out... You are more than just welcome to join in... Whether you like it or not, you are already family...

    Hang in there, stay positive, and you'll make it through just fine...

    Best,

    John

  • Hondo
    Hondo Member Posts: 6,636 Member
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    Hi Dave

     

    Welcome and glad to have you here with us. It can be a little rough when you first get started but sounds like you are doing well after the surgery. My NPC was back in 2002 and I did not discover this site until 2009. I just wish I knew about CSN back then because I sure needed the help to understand what was going on with me and all my problems. I had little help from the doctors here in Lafayette but the nurses were wonderful and gave a lot of support to all of us. This is one reason I tell everyone if you need treatment get it at one of the major Cancer institution not at some small City Oncology office. It is nice living so close to the hospital; they just built a major Hospital 2 miles away from where I live. I did all of my HBO treatment there it made it so nice to run in and back out and not have to drive a long way home or to the office.

     

    I hope you stick around and let us know how are doing, I will keep you in my prayers if you don’t mind.

     

    God Bless you and your caretaker

    Hondo

  • DaveJay
    DaveJay Member Posts: 8 Member
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    Hondo said:

    Hi Dave

     

    Welcome and glad to have you here with us. It can be a little rough when you first get started but sounds like you are doing well after the surgery. My NPC was back in 2002 and I did not discover this site until 2009. I just wish I knew about CSN back then because I sure needed the help to understand what was going on with me and all my problems. I had little help from the doctors here in Lafayette but the nurses were wonderful and gave a lot of support to all of us. This is one reason I tell everyone if you need treatment get it at one of the major Cancer institution not at some small City Oncology office. It is nice living so close to the hospital; they just built a major Hospital 2 miles away from where I live. I did all of my HBO treatment there it made it so nice to run in and back out and not have to drive a long way home or to the office.

     

    I hope you stick around and let us know how are doing, I will keep you in my prayers if you don’t mind.

     

    God Bless you and your caretaker

    Hondo

    Thanks for the Welcome

    Appreciate the welcome, everybody.  I'll have plenty of questions - nice to know you all can help.

    Dave