Jeff Miller

First post: Dec 2, 2021 Latest post: Jan 20, 2022
Jeff felt a lump on the left side of his neck in August - an enlarged lymph node. He went to the doctor (Doctor #1) and they did blood work to see if there were any signs of cancer and there wasn’t. The doctor put him on an antibiotic to see if it would shrink and it didn’t. Then he put him on an antibiotic again and a steroid and that didn’t really do anything either.  Next step was an ultrasound with a biopsy.  He kind of got pushed around with that and finally got an appointment with a doctor (Doctor #2 - Dr. Mcgreevy) to discuss the biopsy and then an appointment was set up 2 weeks later for October 27th to get the biopsy done.  One week later on November 3rd is when the result showed up on this chart.  Of course, he had been checking his chart daily and noticed the results at 1am when he had got up to go to work that day.  The results showed words we had never heard of - it showed positive for malignancy and also mentioned Basaloid Squamous Cell Carcinoma.  Google broke the news to him that it was cancer and that it was caused by chewing tobacco.  The doctor called later that day and explained what was going on.  He said this is now out of his area of expertise, so he set Jeff up with another doctor.   He said a scan will need to be done of his head, neck and chest to see what the primary location was of the cancer.   

The next day, November 4th was the last time Jeff has had a Grizzly Wintergreen Pouch.  He switched to Smokey Mountain Tobacco-Free Wintergreen pouches.  He said it's going really well - it feels like he has a regular pouch in.  A little advertisement there for any of you who may want to make the switch from tobacco to tobacco-free chew before you hear that nasty c word!  :)

 A PET scan was done on Monday, 11/8.  They did a scan from his pelvis to the top of his head.  He met with the doctor (Doctor #3 - Dr. Naylor) on Thursday, 11/11.   One of the first things she said was it’s fixable but there will be some work. She was very confident about it being fixable.  It gave us some relief.  The PET scan showed it is in the back of the tongue.  She said surgery isn’t needed. Odds are very much in his favor with no surgery.  Treatment with chemo and radiation respond well and quality of life is better.  

Next appointment was set up with the Radiation Oncologist (Doctor #4 - Dr. Wang) on Wednesday, 11/17 & Thursday, 11/18.  With these 2 appointments he learned he will be doing 35 rounds of radiation.  Radiation will be 5 days a week (Monday - Friday) for 7 weeks.   The appointments are 10 -15 minutes, 5 of those minutes are the actual radiation part.  They will do radiation from both sides of the neck.  He was fitted for a mask that will need to be worn to brace him down during radiation.  (See picture in the gallery) It will probably be around week 3 that the pain starts to set in - it will feel like the worst case of strep throat.  It will get to the point where he will not want to swallow anything anymore.  

Today he met the Chemo doctor - AKA the drug doctor (Doctor #5 - Dr. Mathew).   He will have 3 rounds of chemo through this.   Everything starts next week.  Monday, 11/29 he will have a feeding tube put in.  This will be needed once the pain takes over and he is not able to swallow.  Tuesday, 11/30 he will have a Portacath put in - this is an implanted venous access device.  This allows direct access to the veins for medications and for blood draws.   He will also have his first round of radiation and then chemo on this day.   The next round of chemo will be 3 weeks after the first round and then 3 weeks again after the 2nd round.  

He will need to see a dietitian and speech therapist also through this.  

They are not going to remove the lymph node; they said the radiation and chemo will clear that up.  These doctors have all been great and really made Jeff feel confident about all of this.  They do not sugarcoat anything either when explaining to Jeff what he should expect with the treatments.  Once the pain sets in there will be drugs they can give him to knock some of that pain out - they made it clear that the drugs cannot get rid of all the pain.  The positive side to this is it's Stage 1.  Radiation Oncologist said this is 80%-85% curable.  Today the Chemo doctor said adding chemo to his treatments makes it 90% curable.  It will be a long road for Jeff but knowing there is such a high cure rate for this it helps keep the positive thoughts flowing through our minds.