Monday, March 21, 2011

Email From a Friend

This arrived a short while ago and I decided to share it. No one knows when their health will change.

Everything happens for a reason.

God has a plan for me - I just wish His plan didn't include cancer.

On the first of the year, we discovered a lump on the left side of my neck. After a failed ten day regimen of antibiotics, a CT scan was done on the February 25 which indicated three tumors. Of course, this prompted an immediate biopsy the next day that ultimately indicated the malignancy - squamous cell carcinoma. The doctors didn't know where these tumors came from, an "unknown primary" as they
call it.

Well, it seems that not only do I have squamous cell carcinoma in my neck, I also have colon cancer. (I know, it's a bad joke - a pain in the ass and a pain in the neck...) In a completely unrelated preventive
test, my GI did a colonoscopy on March 8 and removed six polyps, one of which turned out to be malignant. I have a fraternity brother from Emory who is an oncology surgeon at the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory Healthcare. Charlie has "fast-tracked" me with the best physicians there in all the pertinent areas: ENT, Radiation Oncology, and Surgery. I am fortunate to have such a good friend - we have truly felt like the red carpet has been laid down for us. On March 16, we had to change our original strategy to now include the colon cancer with my other cancer therapy. Last Friday the 18th, I had surgery with the ENT who discovered the "primary" of my neck cancer, the left tonsil, and removed it. This will enable the radiation to be more precise with its targeting. While under anesthesia, Charlie installed a feeding tube or "peg" that will be needed to ensure that I get nourishment when my throat is too sore from the radiation to swallow food. And to complete the day, for the third surgery he also removed the cancerous section in my colon/rectum area.

Emory has what I call "Tumor Talk" on every Tuesday where the entire oncology department discusses their respective cases. I meet next with my oncologist this Wednesday to implement their strategy. At the moment, my lead oncologist feels that we need to begin with radiation to reduce my neck cancer. I'll have the spot radiation for five days a week for seven consecutive weeks. Chemotherapy will run concurrently but for only three weeks.

At first glance, it seems like another terrible event. In the words of Lou Gehrig, "today, I feel like the luckiest man on the face of this earth". Thankfully, I finally stepped up and had the colonoscopy. Had I waited even two or three years, my GI said that I might have "lost my rectum and be forced to poop in a bag for the rest of my life". This way, we caught it early and we can treat it at the same time as the other cancer. If even done next year, I would not want to face another bout
with chemo, radiation, and surgery.

Prognosis is good, even if the next several months are not. Regardless, I'm blessed to have a wonderful medical team, caring and supportive friends and family, and, if I do say so myself, a sense of humor about it all and a positive attitude.

I'll be back in touch as the process continues.

He is one of the most positive, upbeat people I know. I will support him through this in my prayers and any way I can.
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