Hello and welcome to Steve’s CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. This is Michelle (Mikki) and it most likely will be me who is updating on here (you never know if Steve will grace us all with his wittiness) and I will warn you in advance, I tend to get a bit wordy and may go into lots of detail...that is just how I roll.
Steve’s story begins on Friday, July 12, 2019. He came home from work and his neck (lymph nodes) was very swollen. The next day he went to the clinic and received a diagnosis of ear/sinus/upper respiratory infections which are all very common for Steve so we really didn’t think anything was out of the ordinary.
Instead of getting better, Steve was getting worse — running a fever (being hot and cold) and his neck hurt to even turn or touch it. Therefore, on Tuesday, July 16th he went to see his regular doctor. A CT scan was done and it was decided that he would be hospitalized and maybe have a surgery on his lymph nodes. While in the hospital, he had a consult with one of the ENT doctors who went through the CT scan with us. While doing so, he warned us that Steve had a couple lymph nodes that were very inflamed and his left tonsil also was looking suspicious. It was at this time that the “C” word — cancer — was first brought up to us. The ENT doc said it could also be an infection (so Steve received IV antibiotics every 4 hours in the hospital) and a biopsy would need to be done on the lymph nodes, which was done the next day, Wednesday, July 17th.
Unfortunately, biopsy results take time and the preliminary results that came back on Thursday, July 18th were inconclusive. Meanwhile, it was decided that they would do a biopsy of his left tonsil and we were told that it would most likely be a tonsillectomy which was scheduled for Friday, July 19th.
The tonsillectomy was done Friday morning and they kept him in the hospital. Late that afternoon we received the lymph node biopsy results and were informed that they were positive for squamous cell carcinoma and we needed to wait for the results of the tonsil biopsy to see exactly what kind of cancer it was. They believed his left tonsil was the primary source of the cancer, but they needed to verify.
Steve was discharged later that Friday evening and like most adults who have a tonsillectomy, he was in a great deal of pain. Over the weekend and the next week he recovered (the pain was terrible, got a bit better, and then was worse than it was right after surgery). The biopsy of the tonsil came back later that week and it showed that as they suspected, it was the primary source of the cancer. The good news was there was the presence of an HPV strain and when dealing with head and neck cancers, that particular strain typically responds well to treatment. We considered that a huge win in the grand scheme of things.
The week of July 29th he still is recovering from the tonsillectomy as well as many appointments/meetings (with the radiology oncologist, chemo oncologist, dentist, etc). Steve will also have a PET scan on Friday, August 2nd to see if the cancer has spread to any additional areas (they wanted to give him a good 2 weeks to recover from the tonsillectomy before having this done) and once that is completed we will have a much better sense of the cancer stage.
Steve was told that he will have 35 radiation treatments (every Monday thru Friday for 7 weeks) as well as chemo. They also want him to start “bulking” up as he lost 10 pounds since going into the hospital. In addition to that they highly suggested he get a feeding tube because given his body frame along with the fact that he will have many side effects which will cause him to more than likely not eat much. That is scheduled for Wednesday, August 7th.
Steve has been told by his doctors that this is going to be hell and probably will be the hardest thing he has ever done in his life but it can be done. However, he has a great attitude and knows he is going to beat this.
After all that, welcome to this journey. We appreciate all your support and words of hope and encouragement as we tackle this, one day at a time.