March 25, 2011
Today I anxiously awaited my appointment with Dr. Chin. By the time 4 o’clock came around I was ready to bolt out the door and head for his office. What was he going to tell me? What would be the recommendation of the tumor board?
At the appointment, Dr. Chin went over the PET and MRI scans with us (Lynnanne was with me) to show us where the tumor was in my mouth. Honestly, I didn’t think the scans really showed much at all; however the cancer did “light up” on the PET scan. After going over the scans, he talked a bit about the discussions they had at the tumor board. The consensus seemed to be that the cancer was being a little more aggressive than other cancers they have seen in this area, and that it was growing inward rather than outward. As a matter of fact, I have felt changes just within the past couple weeks in the way it feels in my throat. It feels like it has gotten larger.
(I’m updating this so not to worry people. The mortality rate is the percentage of people alive after five years, which in my case is 75 – 80% if I don’t have the surgery. Still scary but not as bad as it sounds. Sorry if I scared anyone, that was not my intent.) Dr. Chin said there was about a five year mortality rate in this type of cancer (where survival is 90%). That was a bit scary to me, but all cancers are gauged this way. He then said that without surgery, that rate dropped 10 to 20 percent. So the recommendation of the tumor board was for me to have surgery, followed by radiation and chemotherapy. This was not what I had hoped to hear; because of what I had been told about the functional problems I could have from this type of surgery, I have been apprehensive about it.
The surgery will be on March 31.
What they will do is remove my tonsils and a portion of my soft palate. He said the surgery was similar to surgery they do for people with severe snoring problems, but would go deeper into the tissue in order to remove as much of the cancer as possible. “Well,” Lynnanne said, “if it is something people do for snoring, then maybe it won’t be so bad?” I am still way nervous about it. Lord, give me strength and courage to get through this.
Dr. Chin estimates about two weeks recovery/healing time from the surgery. After that they will start the seven weeks of radiation and chemotherapy treatment. He said my mouth needs to be healed before the radiation, because once the radiation starts, it won’t be able to heal.
I can feel your prayers and they comfort me.
Today’s verse (two of them):
Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it. Ezra 10:4
Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. Psalm 57:1