Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Where to begin?

One would think that after over five years of experience in dealing with the many different ways that cancer can turn a person inside out and upside down, that one would become something of a connoisseur of the absurd.  One would be very wrong.

Two weeks ago I realized that the leukoplakia on my tongue was growing. To my alarmed mind the spot looked like it had doubled in size overnight. I called my head/neck oncologist at MDA and reported my concerns. She had me come to Houston the following Tuesday for a look. Easy enough.

A naval doctor pursuing a fellowship in oncology was the first to see me. He pulled my tongue this way and that, felt my lymph nodes, and took down my history. He looked at the pictures of the leukoplakia from six weeks earlier and declared that the spot looked the same.

Dr. G. came in and did an inspection and declared that the spot looked the same.

Are you all sensing the absurdity yet?

Since the spot had not had the good grace to disappear benignly, Dr. G. elected to biopsy it. A piece roughly the size of a pencil eraser* was removed and I was instructed not to eat anything salty, spicy, or crunchy for the next several days.

*The naval doctor showed this very lucky girl the actual specimen after it was taken.

It's been exactly one week and I finally got the call. The spot that looked like nothing to be worried about is squamous cell carcinoma. I have oral cancer.

I will have a CT scan of my head and neck during the first week of December to determine whether the cancer is lurking anywhere else. I'm also scheduled to have exploratory surgery on 12/5. This will involve an endoscopy, further tissue removal from the original site, and possible neck dissection if lymph node involvement is found.

Dear readers, you now know all that I know about the entire absurd affair.

I feel well. I do not feel like I have cancer. Beyond that are feelings of anger and disappointment, which I'm not quite ready to write about. Once I've had a few more days to process, you can rest assured that I'll be back and in rare form.

17 comments:

Kacie said...

Keeping you and Chris in my prayers, Ann. You've beat cancer at its own game twice before. You will prevail again. Xo.

Amy P. said...

Ann, thinking of you and wishing Drs. would sometimes ponder before declaring. You are in my prayers. --Amy P. [@KinZ6]

PJ said...

I know what you mean about not feeling like you have cancer. When I was dx'd for leukemia cutis 3 months ago, it did not feel like it did when I found out I'd relapsed in the bone marrow. I've had 3 skin cancers removed in the past year, 2 melanoma and one basal cell. These are but obnoxious reminders of the cause of these annoying issues.

As the Queen says, keep calm and carry on.

Tuyet Iaconis said...

Thinking of you. We know that you can beat it again. xoxo

Jody said...

I am angry and disappointed PLUS for you. I am even out of words, which says a lot. But you, on the other hand, have the where-with-all and grace to relay to US exactly what has happened.

I hate how we're reminded how sneaky cancer is. It comes calling when we're least prepared.

Marshalling forces for you and sending as much love and strength as I can,
Jody

Diana said...

Thinking of you and sending you a big hug, which I really just wish I could do IRL. xoxo

Ronni Gordon said...

Think of it this way: They need to do all those other tests as a precautionary measure. Most likely they will scoop the thing out and you'll be done with it, which is what happened with me. Still, it is anxiety-provoking to add a head and neck oncologist to our team. And what a hassle along the lines of "If it's not one thing, it's another." We should definitely talk.

LacubriousOne said...

Thinking of you during this trying time...like the other commentors have said...you've been down this road before...but I bet that doesn't make it any easier...hang tough!

Frosty Duncan said...

I love you and you're beautiful

jenna said...

Ann...can you tell us if this may in any way be related to your previous cancer? or GvHD?

So sorry for this news and will be here for all the hugs you need. xoxo jenna

Susan said...

All I can say is "unbelievable." And unfair. Thinking warm thoughts for you and Chris.

Van said...

Ann - i hope you get good results from the CTs!

howell vaughan said...

Dear Ann, just reading this...you have so much strength and grace...offering me support as I begin my journey while you are grappling wih this...we will hope and pray that this is an easily resected / local problem and that your other studies are fine...sending positive thoughts your way...Andy Vaughan

sue said...

ann -- praying for you and chris in pearland, texas.

LPC said...

800 million hugs. Maybe little fight will be required, maybe this will be easily put aside. I send good thoughts.

Judy said...

Ann I hope they don't go into overkill mode with you. A squamous cell cancer can easily be in situ, right? Hang on girl, you can do this. But I am so pissed you have to go through the anxiety again. Love you, Judy

Anonymous said...

I wish you all the strength you need to deal with this and I hope it is treated as effectively and painlessly as possible