Good Morning! Gary ("Zim") and I were introduced to this amazing site called Caring Bridge. We hope that it will serve as a communication tool to keep our loved ones informed and to also give them the opportunity to be interactive during our battle with and victory over cancer.
As most of you know, on May 12th, Gary was diagnosed with Stage 4 Squamous Cell Carcinoma, of the head and neck cancer. What stage 4 means in this case is that cancer was found in both lymph nodes of the neck. The doctors believe that this originated from a small spot, or lesion, that was found at the base of his tongue. This was all confirmed through biopsy and PET Scan. The biopsy tested negative for HPV which makes it a little trickier but still treatable.
Once cancer was confirmed, his doctors here in San Antonio worked quickly to have a PET Scan done. The PET scan takes a much deeper view of what is going on in the body. We found out from the PET scan that a couple of "hot spots" were found upon exam. The PET scan showed that, in addition to the head and neck carcinoma, there was a lesion found on his liver and a lesion found on the 3rd vertebrae on his lumbar spine. A lesion is an abnormal change to the tissue of an organ. We will know more about these findings sometime next week.
Speaking of next week, we travel to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to meet his team of doctors, among many other tests and procedures, to begin the battle of kicking cancer's, well, you know! The appointments begin on Tuesday, May 23-24. We are hopeful that everything will be set in motion as soon as we are under MD Anderson's care whether that means the surgery he will need and/or the chemo/radiation.
We are very blessed to be fortunate enough to be going to a facility as advanced and successful in cancer treatment as MD Anderson. I have done my homework and MD Anderson in very well renowned, rated #1 in the nation and one website classifies them as #4 in the WORLD.
We want to make mention that we owe a lot of praise and thanks to the care we have received here in San Antonio but especially to Dr Rolando Perez, MD, his Primary Care Doctor who dug deep to expose this disease. Without his care and attention, who knows when this might have been discovered. In the end, when all of this is behind us, we thank God first and Dr. Perez second. We would also like to mention Dr. Christopher York, ENT, who happened to be a classmate of Dr. Perez at Texas A&M. Dr York ordered the initial biopsy of the lymph nodes and had the unfortunate task of telling us the results. His compassion is amazing and from that day, he gave us his personal cell phone number to call about anything, anytime, and he has followed up with us regularly to make sure we're getting the attention we need. We have received expert care from these two from the beginning and we are grateful.
To date, Zim is doing very well and in good spirits. He is especially impressed with his coworkers who have "really stepped in" to take the load off him. He is also very humbled over the love and compassion he has received from family and friends as am I. We couldn't get through this without you all. We want you all to know that we are not going to wallow around in sorrow. Those of you who know Zim, should know that his sense of humor and jokes have remained unchanged, even with a cancer diagnosis. He is the one who reminded me that even after getting the news of a cancer diagnosis, "LIFE STILL GOES ON"!
While we realize we are in for a fight and a battle and it's time to "suit up", we also know that we can and will strive to remain positive with a good attitude and sense of humor, and come out on the other end claiming victory! This wouldn't be possible without our faith and God at our center, and just as importantly the love, support and encouragement from our loved ones, and the opportunity to receive cancer care at MD Anderson's state of the art facility with it's team of doctors and experts.
MANY THANKS to all of you that have already reached out to us, loved and encouraged us, stepped up to the plate for us, and shown such great compassion and concern. We appreciate each of you and are grateful for you. If you wish to be, we welcome you to to fight this battle with us. We will laugh, cry, fight the battle, and overcome. Praise God!!