Tuesday, March 8, 2011 8:59 PM
We met with the Oncologist this morning and got a lot of our questions answered. She is an amazing Dr. and has a great assistant, together they will overlook the entire procedure. They let us look at the Pet Scan and they assured us that there was no other cancer- other than in his neck. It’s localized in his left gland and his left tonsil. (The Pet Scan is where they use that sugary like substance that adheres to the cancer and take pictures like a cat scan.)
It is squamous cell cancer- it is treatable and curable.
They recommend radiation and chemotherapy as treatment- but there are many things they need to do first. The treatment is 7 weeks long and will begin March 29th- barring no unforeseen circumstances. The radiation is once a day 5 times a week- for 7 weeks. They will do 3 or four chemo treatments too- about three weeks apart. The radiation will get stronger as they go through the sessions- and they said it will get tougher. The first few weeks- he may not notice any differences.
He meets with the Dentist on Thursday- they have to pull about nine teeth. He still has his wisdom teeth – along with five others that need to go. The reason is because the radiation may weaken the bone- the teeth or the tissue- causing an infection… if an infection were to set in- he may not even realize it until it was too late… he could lose his entire jaw bone. So- the teeth must go. (Besides we know some really nice Dentists here…. that’s the least of our concerns!)
They will have to fit him for a mask. The mask is for the radiation- to guide the dosages and to keep him immobile on the table during the treatments. He has to have the dental part done first- then on March 15th he will meet with the oncologists again to design a mask. The mask will protect the other parts of his face and neck from the radiation- it will have little holes in it- and the radiation is IMRT- which is top of the line technology. They are able to guide the radiation in stronger dosages to the tumor and less in other areas. They will treat both sides.
Once that part is done before treatment- he will need a feeding tube installed. When they do the radiation- he will lose his taste for food- his mouth may be sore- his throat may also be raw or uncomfortable. They can’t afford for him to lose any weight- and be weak during the procedures. (Because the mask won’t fit him if he loses weight…)
This is just a precautionary measure- they hope they never have to use it- but will install it just in case… Once they start the radiation and chemo- they wouldn’t be able to do the surgery then to install it- so they do it up front.
The treatments will all take place at the VA Hospital in Ann Arbor. He will also be staying there during the treatment. They have rooms they have converted from hospital rooms- to hotel rooms- they call it the “Hoptel”- and it’s all covered through the VA. They will give him meal vouchers- they have a library- and he will have freedom to roam as he chooses around Ann Arbor. He plans to come home each weekend- and maybe few trips home during the first few weeks.
The issue would be travel expense… time… and if he feels up to making the trip. We will make the best of it- but if anyone knows of a car to rent for a few months- or a cheap descent car to purchase… we may be in the market! We can do anything for 7 weeks… it’s only 7 weeks…
I guess the scariest stuff is out in the open. We have a plan. It’s not the journey we would have chosen- who would? But we are ready. It’s not going to break us… we really are going to be okay. It’s tough at times… it just sort of hits you… the littlest things move you- or jolt you to reality… then as fast as it came… the tears stop and you again know- you are okay. It comes in waves.
So in the meantime- we need to pray- send love- positive energy and know that your prayers are being answered. It’s amazing that it’s not anywhere else in his body- and there is a plan. A reminder to everyone to please do not post on his or my facebook- you can email me back with questions… but he is not willing to live his life on facebook- he doesn’t care who knows now… it’s just a matter of privacy for him- and I respect that. Add him to the prayer chain- and let’s all lift the whole situation to the healing energy of love… that’s where I think the healing begins- in God’s love.
Thanks my family and my friends- we love the encouraging words and prayers- I share your responses with Paul… he feels the love.
Love to all,
** Here is a side note to what was happening and what I was writing about… We were scared… but we tried to be strong. I remember sitting in the Radiation Oncology Dept and he didn’t agree with many things- he almost refused two things… The teeth and the feeding tube were things he said he wouldn’t do.
The Dr. convinced him that both things were necessary… but you should have seen him bargaining with her. He said- I have no problem with eating… I will do what it takes. I will force myself to eat. I don’t need the tube. She said everyone feels like this- but because it wouldn’t be possible to do it later- it was necessary to do it now. She also said- hopefully you don’t ever need it… and that was the clincher… The teeth were more of a vanity thing than anything else. He knew he had some issues with his teeth… a few small cavities… but he didn’t want to have a bunch of teeth pulled. Dang… who would? He just didn’t know they’d do it all at once… with him sitting in a chair. Yikes. Ten teeth… gone. Yanked out with local topical anesthetic…