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Posts: 7
Joined: Jul 2008

My significant other is scheduled to have a partial laryngectomy next week with the top surgeon at the University of Penna. He is terrified and now wants a 2nd opinion. He went through 8 weeks of chemo and radiation ending last November but a recent larynoscopy and biopsy showed the cancer was still there, although a PET scan said otherwise. He is 80 years old and very independent and will not listen to a thing I say. I feel a 2nd opinion will just delay the inevitable and the cancer will spread if he waits any longer, causing a complete laryngectomy instead of a partial. We've heard the surgery takes anywhere from 7 to 9 hours which I'm afraid he will not be able to survive even though he is a very strong and healthy (sans the cancer) man. Needless to say, I am a wreck over this. He wants to cancel the surgery. He keeps hoping there are other options. He had hoped for the laser surgery but the surgeon said this was not an option in his case but did not explain why. I don't know where to turn!

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Frank, I personally feel that it is critical for the survivor to be completely satisfied with and trusting of his professional caregivers; otherwise, anything they might have to say is completely useless in the long run. At the same time, I always felt, as you do, that additional opinions were only going to prolong the inevitable.

That all said, if your significant other wants a second opinion, I would go that way without equivocation. It is, again VITAL, that he or she accept what the doctors are saying in order to go through with this additional treatment. This requires trust and acceptance, and I have learned over time that cancer does give us time to make decisions, after all.

Beyond that issue, which I consider the first and foremost to resolve, I note that you have some concerns that the biopsy and larynoscopy seem to differ from the results of a PET scan. In my non-medical opinion, you can pretty much trust the -oscopies, Frank. They are getting down to the nitty-gritty; they are not just pictures to be evaluated.

As for his health, I am hopeful that he is at an institution comprised of folks with sufficient knowledge that he would not be subjected to a surgery that he cannot reasonably be expected to handle. Given his age, I understand your concern. In fact, at the risk of sounding age-ist (and I am not) I am wondering that they are willing to go through with it!

This probably means that if they have not yet evaluated him completely for the physical ability to withstand the surgery, they will do so in the course of the preliminaries to surgery (the same happened to me before a scheduled 15-hour tongue/neck surgery, and I was still in my late 40s when they ran me through that juggernaut of tests).

I will add that as the caregiver, it is essential that you take time for yourself, that you be the best caregiver you can be by taking good care of the giver.

Whatever it is that you do that provides some personal peace, tranquility, or whatever you need, (energy instead?), plan for it and make it something you do regularly to keep YOU able to care for HIM.

I admire your significant other's ability, frankly, pardon the unintended pun, to be accepted for surgery at his age. He must be in great shape! I am also surprised that following chemotherapy and radiation they are still willing to go in for surgery. In those regards, he is a most fortunate individual, in my opinion.

Best wishes to both of you and to your families and friends. We are here for you.

Take care,


Posts: 7
Joined: Jul 2008

Thank you Joe for your response. Unfortunately, I am getting no support from Frank's family. They feel the surgery will kill him and he should get a 2nd opinion. His surgery is scheduled for next week so I can't imagine getting another opinion in such a short time. We will be discussing this with his former radiologist tomorrow. In the meantime, he is going out to play golf which makes it hard for me to accept all this.

Thank you again for making me feel I am not alone.


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