This blog is just one of the first steps in my battle against cancer for the third time. I figured it may help me emotionally to be able to post my progress in this fight and to keep my family and friends informed of what is going on.
My first battle began in March of 1998 when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma at the age of 27. I felt a "lump" in my neck, that a year prior they told me was mono and never really went away. I had the lymph node removed and it was positively diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease. I underwent weeks of radiation therapy from my diaphragm up to my ears. My throat got so sore that I was unable eat or drink. As I finally finished treatments, I was then admitted to the hospital because my digestive system was shutting down and I had lost 30 lbs. in less than 2 weeks. The doctors finally decided to insert an NG tube through my nose to feed me nutrients. Within 24 hours, I was a new person. The tube was a removed a week later and I finally began my recovery.
In November of 2005, I had what I thought was a canker sore or "ulcer" on the right side of my tongue. After visiting the dentist, it was decided to wait until after Kacey was born in December to further any decisions. In March of 2006, I had my first biopsy of the spot on my tongue. It came back with "abnormal" cells, but nothing cancerous. The sore did not heal and I then returned to the oral surgeon for another biopsy. After much convincing, he finally did another biopsy, telling me all along "that if I was his sister he would say that everything was okay and not to worry about it." Glad I was NOT his sister and demanded that he did another biopsy because this one came back positive for Squamous Call Carcinoma. I had surgery in April of '06 to remove a portion of my tongue, where the "host" tumor was, and 17 lymph nodes on the right side of my neck, one of which was positive for squamous cell. After almost 8 weeks recovery, I began external radiation to my tongue and neck. This went on for 23 treatments. I had a G-Tube placed into my stomach because my throat got too sore to eat and I did not want to get too weak that I would not be able to continue treatments like with my Hodgkin's treatments. After a few weeks of recovery, I had surgery again to place 10 catheters up through my chin and into my tongue. Small radioactive capsules were then threaded into these catheters where I was placed in isolation for 4 days to receive high doses of radiation internally into my tongue. Most people would have enjoyed four days of isolation, away from work and the kids, but keep in mind I had a 2 1/2 year old and an 8 month old at home. This was no vacation. I finally recovered from this treatment and returned to work in October of 2006.
I have been "cancer-free" for almost 4 years, when I felt another "lump" above my collar bone on the right side of my neck in February of this year. After 2 weeks of "waiting" to see if it was just an over-reactive lymph node, I went to the doctor, who was convinced it was nothing more than a reactive lymph node or an infection. Boy was he surprised when I had a CT scan that saw a suspicious mass and a needle biopspy that confirmed that is was again squamous cell.
This fight has already began to prove that it is going to be "different" than the others. Unfortunately, it seems that the tumor has attached itself to my carotid artery. After many appointments with my oncologists, head/neck surgeon, and vascular surgeon, it has been decided that it is my best option to remove the tumor and a section of my carotid artery on the right side and hopefully bypass the carotid so I do not lose the blood flow completely. As risky as this surgery is, it is my only choice to rid my body of the cancer and "cure" me, not just prolong my life. And with two beautiful angels at home that need their Mommy, I must chose the best option for a long life with them.
I do not have a surgery date yet and have to have many pre-op tests done before the surgery can take place. I am hoping to hear from the doctors this week to begin the scheduling of those tests so I can get this surgery behind me and continue moving forward. After a 4-6 week recovery period after the surgery, I will begin a 5-6 week period of external radiation and probably a low-dose chemotherapy once a week to increase the effectiveness of the radiation.
I am holding my head high and trying to live each day with a smile on my face. I am scared, as you can imagine, but I know what I have to do and want to prove to myself and everyone else that I can beat this damn disease once and for all...or is that thrice and for all!?!?
Please keep me and my family in your thoughts and prayers....
I am a FIGHTER and I will SURVIVE!!!!