It's been 10 years since I was diagnosed with Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma... cancer. I started this blog to share the many emotions, fears, experiences and, hopefully, triumphs that I will face throughout this journey. I have two goals for this blog, 1. To gain some degree of personal therapeutic benefit and, 2. To help others who may one day face a similar struggle by detailing the process of diagnosis, treatment and recovery so that they may know what to expect.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


September 17, 2006 - So my days are now consumed with consumption. I find myself completely pre-occupied with the number of calories that I take in and it isn't easy. As a reminder, I need at minimum 2500 calories and 130 grams of protein each day which would be alot for me even if there was something that I actually enjoyed eating. At this point, my nutrition comes almost exclusively from boost shakes or fruit smoothies, neither of which are the least bit appetizing to me any longer.

[ASIDE] - Wow, this is really strange but the most amazing commercial was just shown on TV. It opens with a man, probably in his 60's walking into a small gathering in his honor. It's September 10th. Not his birthday but his annual "I am alive party." He explains in voice-over that 6 years years ago when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer he thought his life was over. His father and grandfather had both died from the disease and he had given up. Why go through the pain of surgery and chemo when the odds are stacked against him so? But his urologist wanted him to fight and asked if he had any pictures of his family. As he displayed the pictures, the doctor says that he just answered his own question. The narrator then said that it wasn't the surgery and chemo that saved his life but that moment in the doctor's office when he became convinced to fight. The spot closes with an ad for INOVA Health Systems and the narrator saying that this is the way the people are at INOVA. They never give up on a patient. I mention this only because it is timely and inspiring and also because I am being treated at INOVA. They really are good people.

OK, back to counting calories. The one good thing about nutrition from a bottle is that it is pretty easy to keep track of what you're taking in. The Boost Plus shakes have 320 calories and 14g of protein per 8 ounces which is pretty good. There is also a product made by Carnation called VHC (Very High Calorie) that has 560 calories per 8 ounces but judging from the free sample I tried, that stuff could be used in place of Elmers glue if you're ever in a pinch. I don't even want to know how much weight I've lost so far but it is enough that my mask is no longer fitting me properly. So, I need to go in early tomorrow for an adjustment since my last few treatments have required multiple scans in order to line me up properly. This takes extra time and that is not a good thing.

The taste and weight issues reminded me of a web diary that I read the first night I was diagnosed. It was written by a woman in the UK back in 2002 who had the same kind of cancer as I with an unknown primary site tumor. I don't know if it is because she was in the UK or if it was because she went through this 4 years ago but it appears she did not have IMRT but the older XRT radiation that simply blasts a broad area and she had a really tough time of it. You can read her diary HERE. She suffered significant burns, which she is kind enough to post many pictures of, and internal blistering in her mouth and throat. I was most interested in her detailed description of her taste issues which were also significant. Unfortunately, her updates from 2 and 3 years beyond initial treatment showed little improvement and it is clear that this is a source of great distress for her. I can only hope that the fact that beyond my taste issues, the side effects from my radiation have been negligible and the advanced technology that I'm fortunate enough to have access to will ultimately mean that I will be able to enjoy food again... sooner rather than later. Time will tell but if I'm still dealing with this next football season, I'll be distraught.

Michelle and Mason are away for the week. We had a planned vacation at Nags Head and the house was paid for so even thought she was reluctant to go, I insisted. She and Mason could use the time away from all of this. So, I'm a bachelor for the week. Alone with my thoughts and my Boost.


Blogger noli96 said...

Glad to hear that the side effects have been negligible. Hang in there buddy - your almost finished with the treatments! We need you better so that you can come out to a Maryland football game soon. Take care!

3:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep fighting.

Fellow Terp

6:11 PM


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