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In December of 2015, I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the left neck. Following biopsy surgery in January of 2016, my cancer was determined to be cancer of unknown primary origin (CUP). Subsequently, I went through two full months (mid February to early April) of daily external beam radiation treatments, concurrent with eight weekly chemotherapy treatments. In May of 2016, my PET scan revealed that my cancer was officially in remission.
I continued my regularly scheduled physician office visits and scans for the remainder of 2016. This included two full months of daily hyperbaric oxygen treatments (HBOT) from December 2016 through January 2017. The purpose of these treatments was to hopefully provide relief from severe radiation fibrosis I developed in my neck as a result of the two months worth of radiation treatments I had received in 2016.
In February of 2017, when I had my next scheduled 6-month follow-up PET scan, it was discovered that the squamous cell cancer had returned in a very aggressive, fast growing manner, again predominantly in my left neck. After consulting with all of my physicians who had treated me since 2016, it was determined that my best course of treatment would now be additional chemotherapy treatments with more toxic drugs, followed by surgery at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center. The intent was for the more toxic chemo drugs to shrink the new tumor to a size that would allow it to be completely removed by surgery. As such, I received three more chemo treatments from mid-March to late-April 2017 (one treatment every 21 days), only to discover via a repeat MRI in early May, that the new tumor revealed in the February PET had not shrunk in size at all, and had actually become substantially bigger. It was at that time that the Head and Neck Surgeon at UCLA that I had been referred to in March, determined that I needed to have major "neck flap" surgery on my left neck, as soon as possible, to remove the fibrotic tissue in my left neck, and to debulk and remove as much of the new tumor as possible. Surgery was then performed on May 24, 2017, just 6 days prior to my 66th birthday. Following surgery, post-op recovery and probable rehabilitation, there is still a good likelihood that I will need additional chemotherapy and/or external beam radiation treatments, as well as possible immunotherapy treatments.
I would only close by taking this opportunity to express my sincerest and heartfelt thanks to everyone who has prayed for me and sent me daily words of encouragement and 'positivity' since I started my "journey back to health" 17 months ago. You have all strengthened me more than you will ever know, and I will be forever grateful. #keepmyeyeontheprize