However, every delay of 1 week in the referral of an OPSCC patient to secondary care correlates with a more advanced cancer stage at presentation and is associated with poorer survival. Time from identification of metastatic bone disease to patient death was no greater than 8 months. During a follow-up appointment with my radiation oncologist, Dr. Nancy Lee at MSKCC, she informed me that SBRT is associated with fewer side effects than the conventional radiation therapy I received as part of my initial treatment back in 2016. While there wasn’t a dramatic progression of my cancer based on Saturday’s CT scan of my abdomen/pelvis, the overall picture looked different when combined with the results from the MRI of my spine and the increasing level of pain. So, I’m currently scheduled for two more cycles of paclitaxel monotherapy (3 weeks on, 1 week off x 2) and then reimage. The MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Cancerwise blog is a comprehensive resource for patients and survivors of cancer of all kinds. Also, pain in cancer is not one single entity and often doesn’t respond to one drug (or any drug). I will also have another MRI of my spine, as the recent radiation treatment didn’t completely knock out my pain. Yet in my heart and mind it feels important to make them distinct. However, it is difficult to determine from a visual examination which abnormal tissues in the mouth are worthy of concern. When I stopped the dexamethasone, the radiation pneumonitis was left untreated and suddenly became symptomatic. And every time I think that I’ve run out of things to do or say, my cancer journey takes a new turn, and the words continue to flow. that can become very dangerous projectiles. With a background in radiopharmaceuticals, I’ve been a strong proponent of radiation therapy for some time. This journey was a true test of my will and determination, but with the love and support I got, not only from my family and friends, but also the doctors, nurses, and staff, I know anything is possible. I was concerned that the pain could be a late gastrointestinal (GI) toxicity from radiotherapy that I received in November 2018 to shrink the lesion on my spleen. This largely resulted in my decision to discontinue treatment. Specifically, researchers estimate that for every 1 week of delay in referral, the stage of presentation will progress by 0.045 of ‘a stage’. Journaling my journey with breast cancer For that reason I took a flippant approach to it. For example, the nerves emanating from the T8 vertebrae map to the spleen, which is located near my painful left lower chest wall area. What was I to do now? Happy New Year everyone! My knees buckled. Doctors appointments, deciding between lumpectomy and mastectomy, preparing for a double mastectomy, and double mastectomy recovery. Correlation of the findings using an MRI was needed. Cancer that spreads to the bone is often characterized as osteolytic (causing the breakdown of bone), osteoblastic (causing increased bone production), or in some cases a mix of both. Fortunately, my oncologist, Dr. David Pfister, and Nicole Leonhart, ANP, RN, at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) were able to give me a “tune-up” in advance of Thanksgiving and two upcoming speaking engagements. I was supposed to be elated, happy, celebratory, but what I felt instead was fear, confusion, and dropped. I share this through weekly blog posts that include personal stories, moments of struggle & celebrations along the way. If you’re like me, the holiday season often brings with it a certain bittersweet nostalgia. In 2017, nearly 49 percent of adolescents received all the recommended doses to complete the HPV vaccination series according to a new study. Is death a friend or an enemy, to be acquiesced to or to be fought? Recent CT and X-ray imaging of the area hasn’t revealed any anomalies, such as a rib fracture. It was a beautiful day, and I came fully prepared with a tripod, lens filters, and additional camera equipment. Radiation treatment was uneventful, and everyone at MSKCC was delightful despite the fact I was late and the last patient of the night. This is my humble attempt to share what I have done and learned along the way. If you’d like to read the first couple of years of my journey in story form, it’s in my blog post titled A Lung Cancer Epatient Story. They agreed, and both imaging procedures were scheduled for September 19, 2018. Skip to content. Things aren’t much better back in my home town of Chicago, which broke the record for wettest month of May in its history. As a result, I was prescribed an initial two-week supply of another steroid (prednisone). In other words, I REALLY didn’t expect to still be here today. Adverse events associated with SBRT can include pneumonitis, cough, pain, esophagitis, and dermatitis. Cancer journey by T.A This is a blog of my journey with her2 positive breast cancer. Beyond finding writing cathartic, blogging allowed me to efficiently keep family and friends updated about my disease progression and treatments. Starting with my left lung, the treatment takes place Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of this week. Assuming my bone pain is addressed, I’m faced with the option of pursuing novel therapies or merely continuing my treatment hiatus. Also, I’ve had radiation aimed at the tumor on my spleen as well as a few mediastinum/thoracic nodes to alleviate coughing. Aside from the fact that I find writing cathartic, one purpose for this blog is to keep family and friends updated following my diagnosis with Stage IV oropharyngeal cancer in December 2015. However, the X-ray came back clean with no sign of fracture. Click to enlarge. But if I had to, I wouldn’t change a thing. Sure enough, I started experiencing episodes of break-through pain by later the next day. So, the radiation is likely doing its job of shrinking tumors that may be obstructing my airway. The Cancer.Net Blog was named one of Healthline's Best Cancer Blogs … The proverb that March comes “in like a lion, out like a lamb” implies that the month is a bridge between seasons, beginning with wild, bitter and blusterous winds and rough weather until winding up with mild breezes and gentler weather by April. New locations also appeared, including my spine. As hoped, the treatment already alleviated some of my more severe pain, which should only improve as the radiation continues to exert its effects and decrease the size of the targeted tumors. More Information. In my prior post, I discussed a worsening cough and recommendation from my oncologist, Dr. David Pfister at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), to consider stereotactic body radiation therapy or SBRT. My Cancer Journey | Michael Becker's blog about living with Stage IV head & neck cancer caused by HPV. Continue reading →, When I finally made up my mind to go through with chemo and radiation, all I could think about was the finish line. And like everything else I do in life, I write—with a purpose! Accordingly, Dr. Pfister proposed starting with paclitaxel alone for a cycle of treatment (approximately one month). But a diagnosis of pneumonitis does increase the risk of developing subsequent pulmonary complications, including fibrosis, a permanent scarring of the lungs. My situation is far from unique. Therefore, no — I will not be receiving further treatment, such as chemotherapy, radiation, or participating in clinical trials. Writing this blog for the past three years has taught me that some readers will view a post as the glass being half full, while others see it as half empty. After years of fundraising and construction, the Memorial opened with a dedication ceremony in 2006. When dealing with a terminal condition, some people decide to focus on quality versus quantity of life, rejecting medical options that might negatively impact their body image, cognitive functioning, mental health, fatigue, sleep problems, physical functioning, pain, and more. Today is the publication of my hundredth (100th) blog post for My Cancer Journey. Removal of my left testicle and radiation went by so quickly, I don’t think I had enough time to process everything. Placing my hand there, I could feel a solid lump just under my jawline that was about 3 centimeters in diameter (see Figure 1). As mentioned in a recent tweet, what’s been my biggest surprise since being diagnosed with terminal cancer? Since my prior post, I completed my first cycle of chemotherapy (paclitaxel) and started my second cycle on January 2, 2019. Michael Becker standing on the train home after midnight (more comfortable than sitting). Initially, I envisioned having a good quality of life for a few months during the treatment break before cancer came roaring back and then succumbing to the disease in approximately six months. Lorie phoned MSKCC to inform them that we were going to be late for my appointment. In fact, select patients with limited metastases treated with SBRT are long-term survivors. Disappointing, but not overly surprising in view of the fact that it has been over four months between spine scans. were with me on this 50th milestone, and that the recent symptoms weren’t due to further cancer progression (my initial concern) but rather a manageable radiation treatment side effect. Continue reading →, by Shariann Tom and Keri Lehmann, Master Cancer Coaches; Those effects are being managed by increasing existing steroids and adding a nebulizer. Dexamethasone, a steroid, has shown potential for preventing and treating pain flares. Debuting for the first time this year, patient advocates, industry leaders, and BIO experts discuss emerging trends live from the convention floor in Philadelphia. Thank you for all of your love and support and hopefully this will help sustain us. I always found myself feeling sad or blue as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder. April 8, 2017 April 8, 2017 5 Comments. Continuing at its current growth rate, the annual new cases of oropharyngeal SCC in men could reach 17,685 by 2020 and 20,204 by 2025. Was admitted to the spine ( dark areas near arrows ) you also! Pain better, but now as a terminal cancer patient on hospice—it makes sense. 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