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I don't know what to do...

Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 2010

My boyfriend was diagnosed nearly a year ago with laryngeal cancer. I met him in the summer, and only found out about him being sick in October. He simply didn't do much about it since his initial diagnosis. He had one biopsy done but he doesn't have health insurance because he's self-employed (however, the cost of treating cancer is way beyond his means), so that's one question I have, has anyone had to deal with treatment in a similar situation?

Anyway, he's very vague about the details, he's very proud and tries not to upset me. When he first told me, the doctor said that he had five years to live. If there weren't extensive tests done than isn't that a bit drastic, would they know just off the bat like that?

Supposedly, it's metastatic.
Recently, thank God, he started to talk to people (as I was the only one he told initially). He got an appt. with the top doctor in our area through a friend and they started doing tests. They found something in his sinuses, tonsils and his shoulder, in addition to what he already had. However, he said they didn't say what it was because they had to do tests first. So he went in to do a biopsy on his tonsil's first, however the doctor told him he wouldn't be able to do it and that he should remove his tonsils. That's where we're at, because the tonsil removal costs more than he had at the moment he let it slide (this was nearly a month ago, maybe even a bit more) then work is getting busy and he's working an average of 15 hours a day. He said he'll do it as soon as things start to slow down.

He's in pain very often, his neck bothers him a lot.
Does anyone know what eases the pain?

Is it safe to assume that the cancer has spread to his sinuses, tonsils and shoulder?

He smokes and I can't convince him to quit. He'll just get mad and do it anyway if I insist.

He's waited nearly a year to do anything and now he's putting it off again, how fast does this type of cancer usually spread?

What should I expect?

Anything, ANYTHING. would help.
I'm tired of pretending I don't know anything, that this doesn't exist. If he won't give me answers I need to get them from somewhere else.

adventurebob's picture
Posts: 690
Joined: Jun 2010

Sorry to read your post Melissa. Not really sure what to tell you. There's a lot more information required to really know where to go and that comes from tests/scans and doctors recommendations. I can tell you this from personal experience; pain from cancer is bad and will only be relieved temporarily by meds. Chemo is what took mine away. Different cancers respond differently and progress differently in different people. Generally speaking though; left unchecked it will spread and cause more pain. Surgery, chemo and radiation are standard cancer treatment but there are many alternative treatments that do work for some people and cost considerably less. Ideally your boyfriend would be doing something to either get rid of or control his cancer. It's a difficult situation you are in I'm sure. I hope that it resolves itself in a healthy way soon. Sorry for your pain.


Hal61's picture
Posts: 655
Joined: Dec 2009

Hi Melissa, sorry to hear of your and your boyfriend's predicament. The original prognosis of five years, just off the bat, is not the way it should be done, you're correct. As Bob said, your boyfriend needs a qualified medical oncologist to run initial biopsies, and scans done to evaluate his condition.

Financial aid available may best be found by calling the American Cancer Association. Check the main page for this site, get the 800 number and talk to them. What may or may not be available varies from state to state.

You've done a brave thing by reaching out for your boyfriend, but he has to resolve to work with you to find resources to enable diagnosis and treatment. It's not easy, but let the ACS help and keep your head up. Urge him to get the ball rolling, and know all of us here are rooting for you.


charles55's picture
Posts: 87
Joined: Aug 2010

Melissa, I am so sorry both of you are having to go throught this. Cancer treatment is hard to deal with even in the best of financial, spiritual, and supportive situations. As Bob was saying, everyone is different, but it's still the truth the longer you go without treating it, the harder it is to win. Time really matters here. Something this big can make us just shut down trying to deal with it. It seems there are too few doctors who can help their patients in matters that are outside of strictly medical issues; to help them get their head around fighting this cancer. I don't think your boyfriend is there yet, but I pray he gets there very soon. Is there someone he really respects that can set him down and help him think about this clearly?

connieprice1's picture
Posts: 300
Joined: Oct 2010

Melissa, Your boyfriend needs to take care of this problem immediately. My wife was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma at the base of her tongue which spread to the lymph nodes in her neck. I am self-employed and we also did not have insurance. Your boyfriend needs to realize that this is a very dangerous situation. He needs to seek help immediately, the county hospital can help you. If your boyfriend needs cancer treatments and the county hospital cannot take care of the treatments, they will send him to a facility that can. In our case we asked MD Anderson Cancer Treatment Center in Houston, Tx. for help and although it took 6-8 weeks to get all the paperwork done, they accepted Connie and gave her 100% medical assistance. My business hits the rocks in 2008 and I basically lost money for the last couple of years so the assistance was based on our income. I don't know where you live but there is help nearby. If he does not seek treatment, cancer will kill him. My wife's lymph nodes swoll up to the size of a golf ball on her neck and after her 1st treatment of chemotherapy they shrunk in 4 days time to almost normal. It sounds like your boyfriends tumor may still be operable but soon it will not be. He may also be elgible for a clinical trial, my wife is in trial 2009-0885 (713)792-6363 they will tell you whether you can qualify. It is STUPID to do nothing. Seek help immediately, Homer Price

Pam M's picture
Pam M
Posts: 2196
Joined: Nov 2009

I'm with the others - I hope you can find a way to get your boyfriend to take action NOW. Think about people with a mild toothache - if you see the dentist right away, you may spend a hundred bucks, get a filling, and be rid of the pain right away. If you put it off, you have pain off and on for months, spend a couple thousand dollars for a root canal and/or crown, and know that the root canal makes your tooth weak, and it could break off later, leading to more money output, a new post and crown, and maybe more pain.
Lots of people are not insured or underinsured, and can't afford treatment. You can contact ACS for info on where to go for financial help; you can also ask his doctor's office about it - there are grants available to help pay for cancer medical bills.
Good luck, Melissa - let us know how it goes for you.

skipper85's picture
Posts: 231
Joined: Sep 2010


Your boyfriend needs to take care of things NOW. My husband put things off for months and finally when he decided to get treatment he had to deal with throat cancer and cancer in his lung which later turned out to be mets from the throat. He put things off again after radiation & chemo. Thought he was cured. He was supposed to have lung surgery but dragged his feet - now the cancer spread to both lungs and other places and it is inoperable. He still smokes but at this point there is no use in him quitting. Today he finds out his last options. I don't know if he'll do chemo if he has to lose his hair (he'd rather lose his life). My husband had a construction company too. I know the type. Don't feel guilty if you can't convince him to seek financial assistance and medical help. He's his own worst enemy. That doctor that told him he has 5 years with mets was off his rocker. There is no guarantee and my husband with additional treatment has maybe a year - without further treatment a few months. My husband is probably a lot older (63) and he also has emphysema complications.

Don't be afraid to be up front with your boyfriend. He's in denial and he just doesn't get the seriousness of his illness. You may not be able to get through to him or he may just be afraid and won't admit it. People who are self-employed have a tendency to always put their business first. It's always on their mind - morning, noon and night. I am self-employed too. I understand how he feels yet I'm a woman and women think differently than men when it comes to health issues.

Remember too, this is his life. The decisions are his and his alone to make. All you can do is support his decisions and give him information to help guide him. He has a rough road ahead. I wish you guys all the best. I hope your boyfriend gets the help he needs. I hope you can realize that his decisions have nothing to do with the way he feels about you.

Stay strong.



Hondo's picture
Posts: 6643
Joined: Apr 2009

Melissa most of us men are very hard headed when it comes to our health because we don’t like showing weakness. But the problem with Cancer, it will just keep getting worse unless treated.

If these problems all started over a years ago more then likely the cancer is very slow growing. So if he gets help now his chances of getting cured are very good, but the longer he waits the less his chances will be, that is it in a nut shell. I am amazed to hear that he can still able to pull a 15hr day but that will not be much longer.

Check with the American Cancer Society and some of the other organizations about getting finical help. Get away from small town Cancer clinic to one of the major Cancer institutions in the US.

At this point all we can do is to pray that he will wake up and understand that his life is on the line.

Take care, I wish you both well

ekdennie's picture
Posts: 236
Joined: Aug 2010

you probably can not force him to go and get treated, but what you can do right now is hope that he decides his health is as important as his work. different types of cancers spread at different rates. My cancer was caught while it was mostly low grade, but part of it was intermediate grade...that resulted in extra treatments for me. My tumor was very very slow growing, but if it had made it to the high grade stage, it would have grown very fast and it would have been much harder to be treated. my tumor is pretty rare and I was in excellent health before it was diagnosed (non-smoker, non-drinker). I had first seen the lump five years ago...my dentist told me it was nothing, but he was wrong. I wish we had done a biopsy five years ago, my prognosis would have been excellent instead of good, and I probably wouldn't have to have a prosthetic mouth piece for the rest of my life, I am only 31 now.
use the american cancer society website to help you learn as much as is possible for all types of cancer he might have. it is hard to offer advice when you don't have details...there are a lot of different types of tumors for the head and neck that could be called laryngeal cancer...that just states where it is, but not the type of tumor it is. only a biopsy can tell you what type it is. cancer can spread to any part of the body, so the other locations could be the same type of tumor, but there are a lot of benign tumors as well (non-cancer forming tumors).
as for the pain...that is a sign that his body is telling him something is wrong. all you can do is support him and try to find resources online that might be able to help pay for his treatment.
there is always hope, hope that he will be fine, hope that he will get the treatment he needs, hope that you will have the strength you need during this time.
also, I wish doctors would stop telling patients that they only have so long to live. none of us know when we will pass, it may be from cancer, but we may get his by a car...there is no way to know when you will die. the only way to guarantee that your options are limited are lack of action. he needs to find a way to get help, to give him a chance to prove the doctor wrong...they often are, especially with the advances in medicine going on right now.
it might help you feel better if you just sit him down and tell him how you feel...it will be hard, but tell him you care about him and that you now he doesn't want you to worry, but that you are worried. that you love the time you spend with him and that you hope you both can find a way to at least try to make sure there is more time together.
wishing you the best of luck and that you get the answers you need to help him.
You both will be in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs!

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