I am a dental hygienist and I have just been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in my right tonsil. I’m finding it all very frightening. I’m 46, but up until this I felt 28, fit and healthy. Or so I thought! I’m scared about the treatment.
There is a high probability that the squamous cell carcinoma is HPV+. Has your tissue been tested yet? The most recent studies show that the HPV associated oropharyngeal cancers have a higher cure and survival rate. How did you find me? By any chance did you see my music video about oral cancer? I’m trying every avenue to raise awareness about the disease.
Thanks for responding so quickly. They are testing the tissue biopsy for HPV, and the specialist said they feel that 100% it has presented as such. I just want it resolved quickly. My biggest immediate problem is the anxiety this is causing me. I’m also concerned about how to have the correct mindset I need to beat this!! I heard about you from a friend of mine that is also a dental hygienist here in Toronto. She heard you speak live at a conference last year, and told me I should make contact.
BTW, Awesome video!!!
Radiation is like the worst sore throat you ever had, but it is a blip in the picture of your whole life. You have more strength than you know!
I’m full on expecting the sore throat, and I think I can deal with that. My huge concern is the chemotherapy! I’m very afraid of chemo, and the risks involved with it. I had a CT scan with a contrast dye today, and I will find out the precise stage of my cancer on Monday. Then it will be determined whether or not I am a surgical candidate. I would much prefer surgery, and radiation if it’s an option.
Jennifer, that’s what I had, surgery and radiation only. 15 years ago when I was treated, there was no research proving chemo made a big difference. But, mine was in a different location, lateral tongue. Every cancer is different.
It’s so crazy!! I eat healthy, haven’t smoked for 18 years, I take great vitamins and exercise regularly! None of the doctors who examined me thought this could possibly be cancer because my medical history is so boring, and I have no predisposing health risks. I thought the healthy lifestyle I chose was supposed to prevent this sort of thing. Shocking that I actually control nothing.
Jennifer, Did you see this page on OCF website? http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/hpv/hpv-oral-cancer-facts.html. What were your symptoms? Sore throat? Hoarseness? As a hygienist, did you know the signs?
How did you finally get diagnosed…through your dentist referral? Sorry for all the questions. Send me a pic of yourself so I can picture who I’m conversing with 🙂
My only symptom was an asymptomatic lump on the right side of my neck below my jaw. Once in a while it would feel like I had a popcorn hull stuck at the back of my throat, on the right side. I had no pain. I discovered the lump the first week in September, and actively pursued a proper diagnosis with several specialists, all the while being told that it didn’t look, or feel like anything cancerous. I finally got diagnosed via a tissue biopsy in December. If I had not been persistent with these doctors, I would still be just waiting for surgery in the late spring!
Thanks for sending this information along!!
I’ve already forwarded it to several colleagues. If I can help even one person to avoid this path, either by education in advance, or by early detection, then I will be overjoyed!
You may find hope in watching my survival story taped professionally at a conference for Radiation Technologists. It’s a FREE download.
I watched the video of your experience, and I’m so happy that I did! You are very brave, and very strong…it gave me hope. I saw a second radiation oncologist yesterday, at a different hospital here in Toronto, and got a 2nd opinion. Turns out that I’m a candidate for robotic laser surgery that is going to be performed by a brilliant young ENT here. This young surgeon completed his advanced training in NYC, and they both met with me yesterday to review my scan and all of my options. The did not speak down to me or act superior because of their brilliance. Rather, they made it clear that I have options, and may be able to avoid chemo with a surgery/radiation approach, and quite possibly have the same future prognosis. They presented me with all the information I feel I need, and they did it with the attitude of us being a team in this. Because of my healthcare background, this attitude is important to me, and I now feel much more relaxed about treatment. I am currently just waiting to hear when my surgeries will be scheduled, and hopefully they will be able to do both the pharyngectomy and the neck dissection in one operation!! The robot is very busy, and there is only one here!!
I want to thank you for sharing your story Eva! I think you are so courageous, and inspiring to listen to. When I come out at the other end of this, I plan to share my experience in at least the dental community. I’ve had to really be an advocate for myself in order to get this diagnosis. I’ve been chasing it since the first weekend in September, and although it was tough to hear it, I’m so glad it’s been diagnosed!! I will be strongly encouraging others to listen to their gut instincts, and hopefully get an earlier diagnosis than I did. Thankfully, even though I have two lymph nodes involved and am classified stage IV, the type of head/neck cancer I have has the highest cure rate and best prognosis.
I will spend every day focusing on my blessings, and praying for a complete recovery!!
Thank you again,
Jennifer, you are a testament to the value of getting a second opinion. I hope everyone who reads this understands the importance of taking the time to find the treatment that fits a person and their lifestyle best and that they should feel like a participant in all healthcare decisions. Thank you for sharing your story. I join all of the readers in wishing you the best possible outcome. For me, from surgery to recovery was under 6 months, just a blip of time when you look at my life. When you are feeling low, don’t hesitate to contact me to raise your spirit. I will be in touch with you during your treatment. If you feel up to it, I’d love to hear back but no pressure.
Sending you love, courage and strength,