Christopher Zilliax Chris eats an Elephant..

First post: Mar 9, 2020 Latest post: Jul 8, 2021
How do you eat and bite at a time....And this is the same way we are taking on our most recent challenge. 

Since this site is a place to fill in friends and family about what is happening, I will start with the original diagnosis from January 2019.  Chris had a lesion on his tongue that was rapidly growing and originally thought to be related to dental work.  After visiting several doctors, he was finally referred to a fantastic ENT surgeon who biopsied the lesion and gave him the news that it was Squamous Cell Carcinoma.  He was in for surgery the following week and the pathology of the lesion and 18 lymph nodes that were removed from his neck came back with an all clear.  We were told by two different opinions that he was cancer free and could "go and live life".  

Fast forward to this January...
Chris had a routine teeth cleaning at the dentist and noticed a few days later that there was a small lump under his chin.  He immediately called the ENT surgeon who originally thought that it was probably his lymph nodes in overdrive from bacteria kicked up during the teeth cleaning.  After a week on Prednisone and antibiotics, the lump had not gone down.  The surgeon ordered a CT scan which showed a pocket of fluid under his chin which he immediately sampled for testing.  Much to all of our surprise, it tested positive for the same Squamous Cell Carcinoma that had been under his tongue. 

Surgery to remove the lesion took place on February 13th followed by two days in the hospital and successful removal of that part of the cancer.  Given that it is a recurrence of the original cancer, Chris will undergo  Chemo and Radiation to be sure that there is no microscopic disease floating around.  They believe the recurrence occurred because the was untraceable disease in transit originally that was not showing up in any margins of lymph nodes.    

All of the chemo and radiation will take place with a fantastic team from Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and as the put it, they are "throwing the kitchen sink at it" this time so that we can be sure it is all gone! 

We are taking this on step by step hence the elephant reference.  Fortunately, Chris is about the healthiest person I know and he is ready to take on this phase of treatment with guns blazing!  We are fortunate that we have the support of all of you, our family and friends as we take this on.  We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and support as we fight through this difficult phase.  

Starting March 11, the radiation will be 7 weeks targeting his neck area.  This will be daily for about 20 minutes.  Chemo will happen 3 times during the treatment and is used as a sensitizing agent to make the radiation more powerful.  This treatment is intense but fortunately fairly quick.  If I think about the last 7 weeks of our lives, they went by in a blur so we are hoping for more of the same for this next 7.   

Please keep sending love and prayers as we all appreciate them so much.  The kids and I are strong and resilient and happy and Chris has his boxing gloves on and is ready.  


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