Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The spiritual aspect

My throat has recovered nicely from the tonsillectomy/biopsy procedures.   I can now eat just about whatever I want and I'm trying to put back the weight I lost in preparation for the upcoming radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

Today I meet with the chemo oncologist, then tomorrow I have a pet scan.  That should just about do it for the pre-treatment consults and procedures.  I'll be scheduled to have a PEG Tube inserted into my stomach; in case I become unable to swallow as the treatments progress, then I'll start the chemo/rad procedure in about 10 days - 6.5 weeks of daily radiation with 3 chemo shots interspersed.

I expect that there will be some difficult days ahead; I've been told that my throat will become very dry and I could find it so difficult to swallow I'll need to get nourishment directly fron the PEG tube.  Side effects from the chemo vary between patients - maybe nausea, fatigue, skin rashes, etc.

The spiritual aspects so far have been incredibly consistent with what I have read in the Bible and heard through the past many years from other "believers" who have gone through similar experiences.  First of all prayer is without any doubt the most powerful supernatural "medicine" God has to offer.  I know that there are scores of believers praying daily for Deanna and I, and even though it is hard to explain, I feel and see the results.  The "peace beyond understanding" that scripture speaks of is as real as rain for us right now.  I'll let you know if and when that changes as the treatments progress.

It has been twenty some years ago since I surrendered my will and life to God.  I remember vividly how I responded to worldly challenges prior to that surrender...with fear, anger, self-pity, lustfulness, judgmentalism, etc.  I am thankful that those "cancers of the spirit" no longer hold me captive.  Don't misunderstand me on this - I am tempted daily by those same "demons", but at least for now they are just old shadows that briefly pass over me and then dissappear as I call on the light of Jesus to protect me.

Onward and forward..."Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him" Job 13:15

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Radiation & chemo- therapy to start in about 3 weeks

Deanna and I went down to the Moore's cancer center this morning and spoke with Dr. Loren Mell  regarding the specifics of his proposal for radiation therapy.  He is the Director of the radiation oncology department for UCSD medical center.

What we learned was that there actually are some "choices" to ponder when deciding exactly the extent and types of treatment to consider.  Factored into the choices were my desire to keep my voice to the extent possible, and what Dr. Mell considered as the best case scenario for a complete recovery and cancer free future.  I could get a smaller dose of radiation and have a better chance of saving my voice, but an increased chance of not getting all of the cancer.  Also, I could forego chemo treatments and just receive radiation with the same chance of the cancer coming back.

Best case long range scenario (and the prognosis is very good) is go with the combination of suggested chemo/radio therapy for 6 weeks daily - with weekends off.  It is possible, maybe even likely, that this treatment could effect my voice quality.  Not necessarily "for sure", but the odds lean toward the probability.  It is also likely that the cancer would be completely eradicated. 

My next step will be to visit radiology again for a PET scan, then to UCSD chemotherapy oncologist,
Dr. Tony Reid  http://health.ucsd.edu/UCSD_MD/Results?pict_id=2260492Dr. Tony Reid. He will decide the specific drug and dose for the chemo.

It appears that my first radio/chemo treament will be about 3 weeks from today.  So I'm hoping to eat good while I can still swallow...Keep prayin'!

Friday, November 13, 2009

"You have cancer"

Around mid-August I noiced that one of my lymph nodes had become slightly swollen. After a few weeks, when it obviously was not going to shrink on it's own, Deanna convinced me  that I should go to my GP, Dr. Robert Barron http://www.cassidymg.com/physicians/barron.htm  and have him take a look at it.  He gave me a 10 day prescription for a strong antibiotic thinking that it could be a bacterial infection.  The lump didn't shrink, so he told me that I should see an ENT specialist at UCSD.

The ENT, Terence Davidson http://drdavidson.ucsd.edu/ , took some biopsy samples from the swollen node then immediately sent them to the lab for analysis.  About 20 minutes later he  told me the results were in and that the node was cancerous and most likely started in my swollen right tonsil.  He told me that it appeared to be early, small, and  treatable.  I was then scheduled for a CT scan, and then surgery to remove my tonsils and and undergo a full laryngoscopy.

The tonsillechtomy and subsequent recovery has been about par for the course -  from what I've gleaned from the internet.  About 2 days of "wow, that wasn't so bad" to 5 days of "is it time to take my vicodin yet", then slow steady progress toward being able to swallow some solid food.

Following the surgery I was told that my right tonsil was the "primary" cancer site - where it started.  The swollen lymph node is also cancerous  and is described as the "secondary" site.  Dr. Davidson told me that he would recommend  radio and chemotherapy for the remaining cancer in my neck.  He referred my charts to the UCSD "tumor board" http://oto.ucsd.edu/Default.aspx?tabid=112  for a treatment recommendation   A couple of days later the board reviewed my charts and confirmed Dr. Davidson's recommendation of radio/chemo.

I have an appointment with the UCSD oncologist, Dr. Loren Mell  http://radonc.ucsd.edu/FandS/physicians/Mell.asp   Nov. 17th.  I'm hopefull that I will get some idea about what the next couple of months will be like.