Triple Whammy or How to Cope with Multiple Cancers, Written by HD
Part 1 – “The Drama unfolds”- by HD Honscheid
I was asked to write a column here on Dear Thyroid describing my experiences of having to deal with multiple cancers. Mildly put, 2007 was a very shitty year for me; but let me fill you in on how it became that way.
I would like to approach this narrative very cystematically. Well, first there was this bump; and I am not referring to the well proportioned and lovely bumps of the female anatomy (Believe me, I much rather write about them), no, I’m talking about this unsightly bulge on the side of my neck. It wasn’t a goiter or a newly formed adams apple, for that, it was in the wrong place. The ENT (Ear Nose Throat) doctor had a very technical term for it: “branchial cleft cyst”, and he continued to say that they are not uncommon, and a remnant of the time when I was an embryo and not so sure if I was a little fish or a little human being, meaning they were my left-overs gills. Wow, who would have thought? – Anyway, the doctor also said not to worry, the are harmless, and might go away all by themselves. – Which they did.
My story could end here, but fate in-cysted that there be more to this bump that went away so obligingly. – About a year later, tataah!, there is was bulging again. And when I wanted to make an appointment with my trusted ear-nose-and-bump-specialist I was informed that his office no longer accepted my health insurance plan. Bummer! (Of course neither the doctors office, nor the insurance people had the decency to drop a hint about my doc dropping out of the plan). Grrr!
So, I had to look for a new ENT doc, and living in a small town, there was no other. – Finally I found one 100 miles (160km) away who accepted me as a new patient. And a few weeks later I had an appointment regarding the harmless bump that so tenaciously came back.
My appointment was at about 2:30 in the afternoon. The new doctor looked at my neck, and felt about my throat, and then immediately called the radiology department to set up an emergency CT scan for me. (OhOh, the first really, really bad vibes were creeping in here. Something ain’t right! Right? ) … And then he said the dreaded “C”-Word for the very first time. And I, speaking quietly to myself, replied with the “F”-Word.
I had the CT scan an hour later, and another visit with the doctor that same afternoon, in which he confirmed his earlier diagnosis, – but apparently it was worse than he feared. The tumor was much larger inside my neck than the “little” cyst let to believe from the outside. The tumor was actually pushing my wind pipe severely out of place. Also he noticed something on my thyroid, but he thought that was nothing to worry about. – The extend of the throat tumor was more than he personally could handle, and he referred me to a specialist in Portland at OSHU (the university teaching hospital).
Whamm! – The C-hammer descended onto my body. I was crushed. – And that evening I drank a good portion of a bottle of rather expensive pear brandy.
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The next morning was sobering in more than one respect. Outch!
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Less than two weeks later I was under the knife. The specialist in Portland, Oregon took the tumor out, created a clean margin (meaning, he made as sure as he possibly could, to remove all tumor locking tissue), and he also took off the growth from my thyroid. Routinely these tissue samples were sent to pathology for immediate analysis.
So while the assistants of the surgeon were sowing me shut again – the pathology came back. The throat tumor was a squamous cell carcinoma on my tonsil and, surprise!!, the harmless thyroid growth was a papillary carcinoma thyroid cancer.
My surgeon was urgently called back. I was reopened, (luckily I was still under), and he went in to get a clean margin and to do a mop-up job around my thyroid. 6½ hours I was under in the operating room. – And when I woke up, I was informed that I now had two cancers!
Whamm! And Whamm Again!
BTW, I was told, that according to the cell structures, the two cancers were not related. One did not spread to the other (the technical term is “metastazise”). When cancer spreads to other body areas, that usually is rather bad news. So, I lucked out on this score.
There is one important message for all of you in my report, and you might tell, by the way I made fun of the word “cyst”. The point here is … if there is something growing on your body, that normally doesn’t belong there, — be very nervous!! A number of doctors told me, oh a harmless cyst. Well in my case it surely wasn’t so harmless, was it now? – So, please, better have it checked out!
In the next installments I would like to talk about the impact of this devastating news on me. The prospect of having radiation and chemo treatment. How I coped with both. The psychological and emotional impact, and some of the things I did do to cope and make it easier for me. – So please stay tuned!
Here is to your health!
HD in Oregon
Tags: cancer group, cancer patient stories, cancer support, emotionally and physically dealing with simultaneous cancers, Managing Multiple Cancers, throat cancer, thyroid cancer, Triple Whammy or How to Cope with Multiple Cancers Written by HD