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12/14/2013 Latest post:
My journey into the world of cancer begins with a small nodule on the top of my skull. After consulting with four different doctors, starting in July, the fourth one, a seasoned veteran dermatologist, said this looks bad and removed most of the quarter coin size lesion for a biopsy. Several days later, the biopsy revealed malignant Merkel Cell Carcinoma, a rare but aggressive form of skin cancer. Rare it is, as I understand about 100 cases of Merkel Cell carcinoma are diagnosed each year in the USA. Little wonder none of the Doctors recognized it. The Mayo Clinic has done a study of their cases, about 240 or so, so it is rare indeed. Following diagnosis, a PET scan and a MRI of my brain revealed no cancer in the vital organs or in my brain. It did however, reveal Merkel Cell cancer in the lymph nodes of my head and neck area. Radiation was the treatment of choice by my medical oncologist with perhaps chemotherapy later but first a visit to my dentist to make sure dental work was up to date. My dentist has told me for years to have an impacted wisdom tooth removed but I ignored his advice. Now, it had to come out before any radiation began, so off to a oral surgeon for removal. The oral surgeon wanted three weeks of healing of the incision before any radiation to that area. My radiologist oncologist redid his plan for treatment to begin with lymph nodes away from the tooth extraction area. This will allow the incision to heal while still treating the infected lymph nodes. After the tooth extraction area heals, treatment of that area will begin. Treatment begins on December 16th here in Boulder at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center. Verification simulation was completed today, December 13th, so all is ready for treatment to begin. Daily, Monday through Friday, with Holidays off, for 33 treatments. Each treatment should last between 15 and 30 minutes. I have been in excellent health all my life so Merkel Cell Carcinoma was a shock to my system. Cure rate is expressed in terms of being alive in five years. Most cancer's are 50% are alive and 50% are not at the end of the five years. My doctor told me the same thing so my chances are good considering no spread to vital organs as of the 20th of November. At this point, I feel confident that my doctors and their treatment plans will handle the lymph nodes. Time will tell if my confidence is well founded or not. My faith in Jesus is secure so I do not worry about the future. God is taking care of me every day.