Here we go again . . .
Comrades: Ooops, yes there is bad news — counterbalanced by the usual good (or better) news that things could be worse. I have some signs of cancer in my neck again (as base of tongue). Six years out of treatment from my initial case, it’s difficult for the docs to tell if this is a matter of “still have” or “have again,” and they don’t seem to care. Odds are, I’ve been hit by a second wave. The biopsy was meant to be today, but we got stormed out — postponed until Monday.
Now, on the could-be-worse side of things, the tumor is fairly small and localized. Head-and-neck scan shows no spreading to neighboring lymph nodes; a full-body scan shows no flare-ups elsewhere in my body. Bottom line: we can “go for the cure!” (We can also “win one for the Gipper”; that is, if we don’t choke on the Gipper’s yogurt first.
What exact path we take to said cure has yet to be mapped out, but it will be mostly radiation treatment augment by some poison (chemotherapy). More good news (really): in the six years since my head was last bombarded by scarifying radiation, the good radio-oncology folks at Dana-Farber have further perfected their aim, allowing them to target the offending bugger so as to minimize collateral damage. (This is a good thing, because the last bout left considerable scarring damage in its wake.)
My voice box is almost in the line of fire, but at last estimate will be spared. A larger concern seems to be my post-treatment ability to swallow. But if I can talk without one of those Robbie the Robot implant things, I’ll be well (enough) content. Actually, no — I hate (hate, hate) feeding tubes and abhor difficult swallowing, but you take what you can get and say thank you.
My cure “team” is about the same as last time. My favorite oncologist, Dr. Lori Wirth, has herself migrated from Dana-Farber to Mass General (better job offer) but we’ve stayed together for follow-up care. Meanwhile, my surgeon and radiation guy are at their stations at Dana-Farber, where the miracles indeed do happen. Thanks to the anti-trust defying “partnerships” among local hospitals, I’ll be able to use both facilities. (We used to dream of One Big Union, now we have nightmares about One Big Company, but I digress . . . )
Now, be assured, I will be getting over this, and when I slide out the other side, I’ll have some respectable way to be seen in public. But these pain plays take time to act out, and I may not be seeing many of you face-to-face for a while. This upsets me.
But, there’s always email and Facebook, which, are nice ways for you all to offer encouragement and support without having to watch me aspirate my soup.
And, just like last time, all I ask is that people not shun me. Fortunately, you can’t catch this sort of thing (cancer comes straight from the Devil to the individual victim), and I’m not especially touchy about tasteless jokes and gallows humor. (Although a few kind comments are also welcome.)
I know this is like asking you to follow me back into the burning house just so I don’t have to find my way to the baby’s room on my own, bug I promise to appreciate whatever good intangibles you can spare.
More updates to follow. I set up this blog and then never actually perfected it, but the URL exists and it seems a perfect place for me to whine and complain and write stuff that nobody’s obligated to read about my sufferings . (I’ll try to keep it entertaining, though. I’m working toward an anthology.)
Seriously, those of you who endured this crap with me back in 2004 were incredibly good to me. I kind of expect that again. In fact, I depend on it.
I suspect you can “respond” to my posts on this WordPress site, but I probably won’t check those too often. My real email address is firstname.lastname@example.org . Use that.
Cheers??? — clif
PS: contacting everyone individually is a huge task. Editing out names on my various lists belonging to people who barely know me, is a daunting one. So if you fall into the latter category, just throw a smile and the occasional “om-mmm” toward Boston and I’ll consider you’ve done your part.
I HAVEN’T YET MASTERED navigation-management on this blog site, but there more stuff of mine on here. Some of it fun. Much of it unpublished in print. Go to http://clifgarboden.wordpress.com/
The next post – January 30, 2011
Subsequent post – Groundhog Eve report at