Marietta’s Story

Site created on March 11, 2018

Welcome to my CaringBridge website. I am  using it to keep family and friends updated about my base of the tongue cancer journey in one place.  On February 23rd, I went to the ER in Panama City Beach because I had a lymph gland that had ballooned up and I was having pain when I swallowed.  Until the gland blew up, I thought I was just dealing with sinusitus triggered by a cold in October and my seasonal allergies.  Thank God for Dr. Rivella and the staff at Bay Medical Beach  ER.  They decided to do a CT scan and the cancer was visible on it. On a Friday night, they chose not to drop that bomb, but they strongly encouraged me to see an ENT sooner than my April return to Wisconsin.  They sent me home with Dr. Beggs’s name and phone number.  He saw me on February 28th, laid the facts out to TJ and me, showed us the CT scan and explained it.  He recommended that I go home to Wisconsin ASAP, get the biopsy done and get into treatment.  His parting words were that a second opinion on treatment was not needed as it was standard and it would be rough, but I would get through it.  I picked up a CD of my CT scan and all relevant reports at Bay Medical, headed home and made an appointment back in Manitowoc with Dr. Smith, ENT.  My “Florida family” helped us get through those first few days and they are the major reason that I am doing this blog.  There are too many friends to keep in contact with each of them separately!  Once at home, my immediate, extended, and church families have continued to be there for TJ and me. I appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement.  I truly feel uplifted from all the prayers and cards that I have received.  They are making me  both humble and strong.  Thank you for visiting.

Newest Update

Journal entry by Marietta Johnson

On Wednesday, 10/24, I had my PetScan. I saw Dr. Smith (ENT) on Thursday, 10/25, as I was experiencing pain when swallowing that radiated up into my ear. It was a deja vu moment. Fortunately, my PetScan results were in and he could tell me that it wasn’t a sinus or ear infection and it wasn’t cancer. He looked at my throat and tongue and larynx with the scope and saw nothing. His conclusion was more radiation damage. (Radiation, the gift that keeps on giving...) So, for now, I am cancer-free. He feels it is skeletomuscular and referred me for physical therapy. 

Fast forward to today, 10/30. I had my PT evaluation. I am having some massage therapy, some at home exercises and we will work on restoring lost strength from weight loss. I also met with Dr. Minehan ( my radiation oncologist), who looked at the same PetScan, drew the same conclusions and actually showed me how the irritation in my throat showed up as a red blush vs. glow in the dark yellow-green of the cancer on my earlier scan. So, I was not imagining the pain. He reassured me that my hyper-vigilance is normal in a cancer patient and serves me well.

Then I met with the nutritionist, Jeanne, and she made suggestions for increasing calorie intake daily to help me gain weight. Finally, I met with the Nurse Navigator, who gave me a ton of reading for a cancer survivor as well as a post-treatment plan. Regular ENT (every 3 months) and radiation oncologist (every 4-6 months) visits ahead of me for now.

This may be the last post for awhile. Happy Halloween 🎃 and Happy Thanksgiving 🦃🍁!
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