I have been struggling over the past month with the idea of telling you what has been going on my my life and decided last week that I needed to let you all know.
If you are a regular follower of PPP you are probably wondering why I have not been writing much this past two weeks and although I was hoping that I could continue my duties I find that I can not continue my normal schedule and wanted to let you know what is going on and what to expect going forward.
Aside from my family, close friends and some of my long time readers of PPP most of you are not aware that I was diagnosed with Sqaumous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) of the tongue, stage 2, 3 years ago this Fall. At the time of the initial diagnosis the doctors gave me a 30-70% chance of survival during the next 3-5 years.
The doctors recommended that I take a 5 week course in Erbitux Chemo therapy followed 9 weeks of IMRT (Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy).
The Erbitux Chemo therapy was recommended since it goes after the specific cause of this type of cancer and the IMRT is designed to be focused radiation therapy intended to target the cancer and leave healthy tissue unharmed.
The therapies ended in January 2010 and since that time I have been closely monitored by my doctors and have had repeated MRI's, CT and PET scans.
During a PET scan they found a suspicious area on tongue and my tongue had enlarged and was painful. The doctor thought that all the symptoms were the result of radiation and recommended another PET scan in a couple of months. The subsequent PET scan showed in increase in the mass and a surgical biopsy confirm that the cancer had returned with a vengeance and involved a much larger area of my tongue. Apparently the IMRT Radiation technique missed some of the branches of the tumor. Since I had already received radiation therapy in that area of my tongue my only option was surgical.
A consult with an ENT surgeon I was told that I might loose 1/4 of my tongue and was scheduled to have surgery. Over the next several weeks the tumor progressed so rapidly that I was having respiratory distress and could no longer eat and had to be rushed to the ER where I had Tracheotomy tube inserted in my throat so I could breath and a PEG (feeding tube) installed so I could be fed.
I went into surgery a month ahead of schedule on September 2nd. The surgery was so extensive that I had to be kept in a sedative induced coma for 2 days in the ICU and when they woke me up I learned that I had lost all my tongue, my right jaw, and most of my lower teeth, but I was alive and the surgeon was hopeful that he had removed all the cancer.
I think that it is ironic that for 20 years in the Army I was a Food Inspector and traveled around the world inspecting foods for all the military branches and today I am no unable to eat or drink and can not taste anything. The doctors tell me that there is no chance that I will ever be able to eat or swallow food and that I will always have a feeding tube. I have lost over 100
That was September of last year and I have been going a lot of painful physical therapy and slowly returned to my writing for PPP.
Things were looking good until this past April when they found two suspicious areas on a PET scan that surgical biopsies confirmed were the same type of SCC cancer that had has spread to on of my large lymph nodes on the right side of my neck and the left side of my neck and cheek area.
On July 18th, my wife's birthday I went back into surgery to have two operations to remove spreading cancer.
My wife of 37 years, Chi, is an incredibly strong person and she said that the best birthday present she ever got was when I woke up in the recovery room.
Again the surgeon was hopeful that he had gotten all the cancer, but now since the cancer has metastasised my odds had reversed from 70-30% to 30-70% chance of survival, but only if I was willing to undergo another round of Radiation and Chemo therapy.
The surgeon said that he had also found that the cancer was now touching my left Carotid artery and that I would have to have a surgical bypass to replace the diseased artery with an vein out of my leg following the Radiation and Chemo treatments. The Vascular surgeon give the chances of a successful bypass being very high at around 95%.
But first I need to have the Radiation and Chemo treatments so on August 16th I started IRMT Radiation and Chemo treatments. So far I have had 10 Radiation and 3 Chemo treatments and I am beginning to feel the side affects. I should be finished with all the treatments around September 20th and will be recovering at home for several months as the effects of the cumulative Radiation and Chemo make their way through my body.
I will spare you the details, except to say that I am getting progressively weaker each day and it takes just about all the energy I have to get my self out of bed in time to go in for another treatment and as a consequence I won't be writing much if anything for the next several weeks or so. It has taken me 3 days to write this short letter to you.
In the mean time all the printable grocery coupons will be automatically updated on our companion web site Penny-Pincher's Pal Coupons were you can print out all the coupons you need. There is also a very useful coupon database search engine tool so you can find coupons that you need.
I will be checking my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and checking for comments on the PPP blog and Facebook page, so if any of you have any questions about anything please feel free to ask me and I will respond as soon as a can. I have always been a very open person and am more than willing to share what has happened to me in the hopes that it will help others.
I promise you that if the Lord be willing I will return to my duties as soon as possible and until then please keep me and my family in your prayers.
aka Frugal Father