This week was another relatively difficult one for me, both physically and mentally.
The good news is that my PET scan on Thursday showed no other cancer in my body, and confirmed the diagnosis from both of my doctors. Praise God for answering that prayer. So both Dr. Moore and Dr. Futran agree that I have cancer, and that it is a 2-3 cm tumor on the right side of my tongue. Where they differ is the procedure to remove it. I always thought there was a textbook that outlines THE WAY to do stuff, but apparently there isn't. So here's the scoop:
1) Dr. Moore, from the Swedish Medical Center, did a more thorough examination of the cancer while I was asleep, and has determined that he cannot remove it intraorally, meaning that he can't just stick a scalpal in my mouth and cut it out. He says that I will need to cut my jaw in half and rotate it out like a door so that he can get to the right rear corner of my tongue. The key here is to remove the cancerous tumor along with a margin of healthy tissue to make sure it does not come back. Dr. Moore is also saying that it is likely that radiation will be needed, but he will know for certain once they remove the tissue and look at the edges of to see if any cancerous tissue may still be left in my mouth.
2) Dr. Futran, from the University of Washington, did not put me to sleep to examine my mouth, but merely felt the tumor with his fingers while in his office. Dr. Futran made it seem like this was going to be really easy to remove intraorally, and would not require and special cutting and reconstruction of the jaw. He did mention, however, that if he really needed to he could drop the tongue into the throat and remove the tumor that way. This makes me a little nervous, though, because he promised a simple procedure but he hasn't taken that close of a look at it. Dr. Futran is also reluctant to do radiation treatment on somebody as young as me, since there is a chance of causing radiation induced cancer in the future.
So in the end I'm left with two very different opinions, from two very well-respected doctors. So who do I go with? I actually feel comfortable with either one, but I do prefer the simpler procedure. My only concern is whether or not the simple procedure will really get the whole tumor out.
I suppose I'll just have to think about it and pray for wisdom. In the end I need to make a decision, and live with the consequences of it. The good thing is that I believe in a sovereign God, and that I am a child of the King. So what do I have to lose? I just need to be faithful to do the research, seek guidance and make a decision about my treatment. God is the one who moves that hands of the surgeons, so I just need to entrust myself to God, and He will take care of the rest.