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.