Nov 25, 2018 Latest post:
May 21, 2020
Welcome to my CaringBridge website. I am using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. I appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.
My cancer journey began at the age of 35, in 1985, when I was diagnosed with tongue cancer. After a grueling 7 week course of radiation treatment at MGH, I was cancer-free until 12 years later in 1997 when I was diagnosed with a new primary site tongue cancer tumor in the same vicinity. This was surgically removed at Mass Eye & Ear Infirmary (MEEI). The third primary site tongue cancer tumor was diagnosed 5 years later in January 2002 and surgically removed. When the fourth tumor was diagnosed 5 months later in late June or early July 2002, I was referred to another surgeon at MEEi who specialized in hemi-glossectomy procedures. This involves removing half of the tongue and attaching tissue and a vein taken from my forearm to the remaining half of my native tongue. Needless to say, this procedure recovery was a full year. I did recover, though, with a speech impediment, and fervor to return to work.
I had been cancer-free once again until June 2018. On a routine follow-up, my surgeon said that he saw something he had not seen before- suspicious looking tissue on the back of my throat. I went in for exploratory surgery on July 13th and was diagnosed with two tumors- one on the epiglottis and the other on the back of the voice box. There it was~ stage 4 laryngeal (throat) cancer. UGH! Just when I thought I was free and clear of cancer, it raised its ugly head in yet another part of the oral cavity.
On July 31st, two weeks after the exploratory surgery and diagnosis, I was back in the OR having the tumors removed. My surgeon was able to safely remove the tumor in the back of the voice box, however, was not able to remove the tumor on the epiglottis. So, he referred me to the team of specialists at MGH's Cancer Center.
My brother Jay and sister-in-law Lesley accompanied me to many consults with the Head of Medical Oncology and Head of Radiation Medicine to determine treatment options. We also went for a second opinion at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, which confirmed the recommendations at MGH. When I learned that none of the treatment options was curative, and that I have 4-6 months, I opted for immunotherapy treatment, which if it works, would at best postpone my need for a feeding tube and breathing tube, allowing me quality of life and possibly extend my life for a few more months.
My doctors said that if I wanted to go on my planned dream trip to Alaska, it would be best to do it now. So, we did just that~ September 1-12, 2018. What a fabulous adventure~ and I felt terrific the entire trip!
I started immunotherapy treatment on October 16th, 3 days after my 69th birthday. I have gone through my first round off 3 treatments, every three weeks, and feel pretty good. Still have quality of life, still taking in fluids and blended foods! YES!
I'm in the midst of finding homes for my worldly possessions as I plan to move in with my brother and sister-in-law's home in Sharon, MA at the end of November. I couldn't have done any of this without their unconditional support and love. I am so blessed!
I promise to keep you posted on my journey. When I am no longer able to make entries, my sister-in-law Lesley will be my voice.
Thank you for all your support, caring and love. Bryna