Wednesday 1/24/07 to Friday 1/26/07
Wednesday felt like one of the longest days of my life. I started the morning a little late because I was restlessly rolling around during the night. In addition to the pains in my ear and on my tongue, I could also feel a 1.5 inch long hard lump where my neck meets the skull below my chin. I was certain that the CT scan that I had the day before was going to show all sorts of cancerous stuff in my neck. So I braced myself for the worst. It was just so hard to know that you have cancer and feel all these pains in your head and neck, but not know how if it is treatable (see previous journal entry below). I'm so so thankful for my wonderful wife's encouragement the first 5 days, her strength and ecouragement really helped me get through that moment by moment battle.
Around noon our friends, Dave and Gale Light, arrived so we could go to our first appointment with a head and neck surgeon. Gale stayed back to watch the kids, and Dave joined us as another set of eyes and ears. On the way down to the Swedish Medical center in Seattle I was feeling very nervous.
When we finally got to talk to the surgeon, Dr. David Moore, he told me that the CT scan came back clean with no visible tumors in my neck. So he reached into my mouth and after causing me great pains said that the tumor was greater than 2cm, probably a stage 2 tumor. He also told me that a lot of the swelling in my gums and the pain in my ear was probably the tumor pressing on nerves and messing things up in my mouth, but they were not cancer. This was good news. He said he recommends surgical removal of the tumor and some some lymph nodes in my neck as well as radiation treatment, but he would know more the following week when he can put me to sleep and get a better look at it.
On Friday we met with Dr. Neal Futran at the UW Medical Center for a second opinion. Dr. Futran told me very similar things to Dr. Moore, but he recommended that I not have radiation treatment unless I really need to because I'm so young. Since you can only radiate a part of the human body once, I might as well save that card for later in life if this thing ever comes back. Another great peice of news was that the 1.5 inch long lump below my chin was probably not a tumor, but a swollen saliva gland near the tumor. Whew! What a relief that was to hear...
So, to summarize, we now have 2 opinions on treatment. Both of them say the tumor is a stage 2, and will require surgical removal. So thats the plan for now. I'm still planning in researching radiation treatment in case it is needed. Dr. Moore was concerned that there might be something else wrong with me since it is so rare for a 25 year old to get this type of cancer. So we scheduled a full body PET scan next week to see if there is cancer in any other area of my body. I hope that is not the case.
I'll keep you all posted, but praise the Lord for answering the following specific prayers this week:
1) We prayed that the cancer would not spread, and it does not seem to have done so.
2) We prayed for appointments this week with a head and neck surgeon. Even through both doctors didn't have space in their calendars, something miraculously opened up and I was able to get into both of the appointment books this week!
3) We prayed that I would be encouraged through this difficulty, and I was greatly encouraged this week. God truly met with me this week during my weakest moments, and in those moments I was able to find great joy in knowing my Lord and depending on Him for the strength to make it through the day. I'm so thankful that my greatest sickness, the sickness of sin is already taken care of by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. I was also greatly encouraged by my wife, parents, family and friends who all called and emailed me this week.
4) We prayed that the insurance would pay for a full body PET scan, and they did.
Things to pray for:
1) Wisdom to choose between two good surgeons
2) That the cancer would not spread and would be completely removed surgically so that I won't need radiation treatment.
3) Continued encouragement and strength for the whole family.
4) That if there is something else wrong with me, the doctors would figure that out.