Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support, words of hope and encouragement, and especially your prayers. Thank you for visiting.
On Thursday, June 28th, the bottom dropped out of our family’s world when John was shockingly diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma. The cancer formed a tumor in his parotid gland (a salivary gland located in the upper cheek, near the ear). John has had some mild pain in his jaw for several years, which he (reasonably) thought was probably the result of knocking his jaw somewhat out of alignment because of a mountain bike fall, ski wipe-out, or something similar. (He is an exceptionally active guy and crashes often.)
After a number of attempts to mitigate the mild, dull ache via a mouth guard provided by his dentist and a number of chiropractic adjustments, he finally decided to go see a TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) doctor. After viewing John’s x-ray and CTscan results, the doctor said his joint was just fine, but he could see something that was out of his league, so referred us to another doctor. You can imagine our alarm when we discovered this second doctor was a surgical oncologist.
What has since transpired is a whirlwind of doctor visits, MRIs, PTScans, and biopsies (8 so far). What appeared in the MRI was quite devastating. Yes, there was a tumor, and it was pretty large, measuring about 4.5 centimeters by 3.5 centimeters – roughly the size of a golf ball. But worse, the cancer had crept along a nerve extending between John’s brain and face, and is thus in the dura (lining) of John’s brain.
Because of the cancer’s position, both intertwining with the nerve, and up into the brain lining, it is considered inoperable. This type of cancer also tends to be resistant to chemotherapy. However, radiation looks promising, and doctors seem reasonably optimistic that the growth can at least be slowed or halted via radiation. Given John’s young age and exceptionally good health, they feel they can treat the cancer quite aggressively with radiation.
It’s a very strange day when you view the prospect of radiation as possibly the best news you’ve ever heard. We were thrilled that medical professionals were starting to use the terms “radiation” and “potentially curative” in the same sentence. Previously, the prognosis looked excessively bleak, projecting a life expectancy of 2 to 10 years.
We are now in a fact-finding, treatment/facility research phase of this unpleasant journey. But we have a least found our footing and fighting stance. Up until a few days ago, we were in full free-fall. Once we choose our medical team (a daunting task) and treatment plan, we will be full throttle into treatment. Interestingly, treatments aren’t particularly invasive – about 15 minutes per day for 7 to 8 weeks. He has been told he can expect to be tired, but can continue to work, ride his bike, and give everyone around him loads of crap, which is just John being John.
We feel we are entering this fight with everything in our favor – a strong family; a great network of extended family, neighbors, and friends; otherwise excellent health; optimistic nature and great attitudes; good insurance and financial resources; and a rock solid faith. We are praying for and expecting a positive outcome. We would greatly appreciate and welcome your prayers on our behalf.
Thank you all for being bright spots in a dark moment.