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.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Six Weeks Post Treatment

November 14, 2006 - Sorry it's been a couple of weeks since my last post. In all honesty, there was not much to write about last week. Plus, I was out of town for a wedding which forced me to really start eating like a normal person again.

So, first, the good news. My taste is really starting to come back. Things still taste somewhat muted but for the most part, foods are at worst palateable and at best pretty normal. I can't eat anything too dry like breads, crackers, chips, nuts, etc..., because it ends up feeling like I have sand in my mouth due to the lack of saliva which is still an issue but anything relatively moist is ok. Something interesting is that some foods have tastes that I would normally associate with other foods like chicken might be tart like a lemon or tangy like a pasta sauce. It's as though my tastebuds are trying to reprogram themselves. What I still lack is the ability to taste sweet but even that seems to be getting closer.

Now, the bad news or potential bad news I should say. I had follow up appts. with both Califano and Tonnesson over the past two weeks. Both of them felt a small bump on the back of my tongue at the original tumor site which, interestingly, they both referred to as a "nubbin." I too was able to feel it by sticking a finger down my throat. Going through this forces one to get over one's gag reflex pretty quickly. Now, neither Dr. expressed any great concern over this and it is true that scar tissue is not uncommon. Tonnessen actually said that in his opinion, I am cured given the way I seem to have bounced back so quickly from the radiation treatments. What concerns me is the fact that both of them had told me at different points during my treatment that the original tumor had shrunk and eventually dissappeared. In other words, both had stated that they could no longer feel it. So if they can feel something now, what does that mean? If it had always been there, I wouldn't be concerned. It's the absence and subsequent return of this "nubbin" that has me worried. Tonnessen agreed to call Califano to consult with him on it and he called me the next day to say that while they still don't believe it's anything meaningful, it is something to watch so he ordered a PET scan for me earlier than he would normally. I go for that on Dec. 6th. Hopefully the PET will rule out what I fear may be either a return of the disease or, more likely, evidence that the treatments didn't work to begin with. If it is malignant, I'm really not sure what my options would be at that point.

Other than that, I'm feeling fine. I started back to work full time as of today.


Anonymous Lizzy said...

Mike, I am very proud of you and I think of you daily with hopes prayers and confidence. (Your blog is on my favorites, so I check it daily.) Stay stronge think positive and good luck being back at work. Hey how 'bout them Terps!

Take care my Friend,

10:01 AM

Blogger FamnBlan said...

Mike: Great to see you over the holiday!! you look fabulous and glad you are getting back taste buds...however my dad really believes that taste is overrated (this coming from a man that puts nothing on his tunafish!!!)
Stay positive!

9:16 AM


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