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.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

It's Over

October 4, 2006 - Today saw my last radiation treatment. 7 weeks. 35 days. 875 rotations in that infernal machine. Countless hours laying motionless on a hard table. Finally, it's all over. How am I feeling? Relieved to be done for sure. Scared for what the future will hold. Anxious that at any given time, the other shoe will drop.

I have to wait at least 10 weeks before I'll know the effectiveness of what I've just endured. That is the earliest I can have a PET scan without a substantial risk for "false positives." During that time, I'm told that the radiation effects that I've been experiencing will probably continue and possibly get worse over the next 2-3 weeks but after that they should begin to subside. Salivary function will improve gradually over the next 12 months and taste should begin to come back anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months and will gradually improve over the next 12 - 24 months as well. My Short Term Disability insurance wants me to go back to work on October 15, less than two weeks from now. That ain't happening. I've put in for a request to have that extended to November 14 which should give me enough time to heal sufficiently enough to be somewhat effective at work. The biggest radiation related issues I'm dealing with at this point are fatigue - I'm sleeping 12-14 hours per day - terribly thick mucous, loss of voice, poor taste, and to a lesser extent dry mouth, mouth sores and mild pain when swallowing. I've also lost approximately 12 pounds to date. As for the Erbitux, my last dose was yesterday equalling eight total or one more than was originally planned. Since I've gone back on the antibiotic, the acne/rash is not so bad although the tips and joints of my fingers are beginning to crack as though I have small paper cuts on most of them now. They sting but hopefully will be a short term problem.

I want to thank all of the people who have left messages of love and encouragement on this site and have sent me emails and phone calls. It does mean alot to me even if I'm not as responsive as I want to be all the time. I will continue to keep this site updated although perhaps not as frequently in the coming weeks. I believe there is a function somewhere that will let you get new entries via email instead of having to go to the webpage for updates. Look around the site and you should find it. I want to share something that I stumbled on today which is terribly moving and inspirational. It's the story of Dick Hoyt and his son Rick whom I had never heard of. Their circumstances are certainly different than mine but at its core, this is the story of a father's love for his son and the tremendous achievements that can be bourne out of that love. For Rick Hoyt, that love inspired him to do things I'm sure he once thought to be impossible. For me, I'm hoping it's enough to help me beat cancer. If you want to see a short video about Team Hoyt, click here (and get some kleenex.)

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CONGRATS in finishing the treatment!

10:56 PM

 
Blogger FamnBlan said...

Congrats!! MIKE!! You have made it through 7 weeks of treatment! I swear I just started reading about your journey (although it probably seems like a lifetime to you!)
Take more time off from work, to recoup and get back your focus. Spend time with Mason and just chill out. You deserve it! Keep us posted on how you are feeling.
T

9:46 AM

 
Blogger Fox Cular said...

I always knew you were a PIMP...You braved the radiation and Erbitux treatments and there is no doubt in my mind that it was succesful, I think a little Cluck-U may help get your taste buds back sooner than later...

3:52 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aside from the side effects from the radiation sleeping 12-14 hours per day - terribly thick mucous, loss of voice, poor taste, etc. know that this is just a stepping stone to your road to recovery. Stay strong.

10:14 AM

 

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