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11/16/2016 Latest post:
Welcome to our Caring Bridge website for Heath! We appreciate all the love & support so much ♡
Heath's journey started back in May 2016 after noticing a suspicious swollen gland in his neck. He saw a few doctors, a dentist and had several lab tests over the course of the next 4 months to try and figure out why his lymph node(s) were swollen. (To be clear, he doesn't have cat scratch fever so that's good! ;)
In September 2016 he saw another doctor for another opinion and was referred to an ENT, and sent out for a CT Scan. The roller coaster continued as the CT Scan results came back benign, and then two days later he saw the ENT doctor who immediately was concerned about the possibility of the "C" word. Cancer. He was scoped and had multiple fine needle biopsies in both of the swollen nodes (so symmetrical!).
On October 5th, we got a call from the ENT doctor saying the biopsy results were in and asked if we could come in to the office. Armed with the knowledge that they give good news over the phone and bad news in person, we made our way to the appt. The doctor confirmed our worst fears. Everything changed in that moment. He had cancer. In both of the lymph nodes. But they had no idea where the primary source was.
Next stop, Pet Scan. STAT.
We had a few complications with insurance (read our current insurance was really crappy and we needed to figure that out ASAP) but finally got the scan scheduled. That 10 days between diagnosis and the Pet Scan were PURE. TORTURE. The non-stop inner dialogue gets the best of you, and it's ugly. Where was it? How bad was it? How much time did we have left? How would we tell our 3 kids?
Everyone said this was the worst part, the waiting. No. Truer. Words. Your imagination gets the best of you and Web MD does NOT HELP at all.
Our ENT doctor (who is awesome by the way) called us later that same day and told us he had Nasopharyngeal Cancer. They refer to it as "powerball" cancer because it's extremely rare. We would have much rather won a cool million or two, just sayin'! Less than 1 in 100,000 people are diagnosed with this particular variety of head and neck cancer. When they do see it, it's usually in men from southeast Asia. There is a strong link between this cancer and the Epstein Bar virus, which he tested positive for.
Fast forward through multiple appointments with oncologists, second opinions at UCSF, another CT Scan, an MRI and a surgical biopsy to confirm the diagnosis, we have a full diagnosis and a plan. Stage 3/Grade 3 Nasopharyngeal Sqamous Cell Carcinoma with metastasis to multiple bilateral lymph nodes.
The plan: Concurrent radiation and chemotherapy for 7 weeks. Surgery is not an option due to the location of the tumor (at the base of the skull). Radiation happens daily, and chemo infusions happen weekly.
We know everyone has "stuff" going on too. We appreciate the thoughts, prayers and healing vibes from all of you. We really, really do. We will keep you posted on this site throughout our journey of kicking cancer to the curb.