I will start at the end, then fill in important details below. In Sue Yom's opinion I AM CANCER FREE.
Ever since the end of my treatments (September 2, 2008), October 23, 2008 has been a day I have focused upon. 51 days post treatment and today we received our first difinitive information on the effectiveness of the long hard ordeal called treatment. I appologize for the possible disjointed nature of this email, but I am exhausted both physically and mentally.
When we met with Sue Yom this afternoon the first thing she told us was that the Tumor Board was unable to meet due to the unavailability of the head of radiation oncology. So any prognosis delivered today was Sue's personally. However, she is the most knowledgable of my case and she was the one that has physically treated me. So, she has the most knowledge and will be the one presenting my case to the Tumor Board. Her bias is one of patience versus aggressiveness.
I have also learned in the cancer world that they speak in double negative language versus affimative statements. For instance, they would not state at this stage of my treatment that I am cancer free. They would say something like there is no evidence of cancer in my throat. As an accountant I very clearly get the distinction. It is one that is used in my profession.
And the lst preamble - I will biforcate the two areas that I was diagnosed with cancer; my tongue and the three lymph nodes in my right neck.
So, what was the news we received today. There is no evidence of any cancer in my throat. It is still abnormal due to the swelling that still exists on the right side, BUT NO EVIDENCE OF CANCER. The three lymph nodes have reduced in size to the largest being less than 1 cm.
We spent an hour and a half with Dr. Yom and we love her for that. We were able to get a ton of questions answered, the last of which was did she think I was cancer free and if so when could she tell me diffinitively. Her first answer was she could tell me in 5 years. I said I wasn't looking for "cured" at this point just her opinion as to whether the treatment was effective in eliminating the cancer from my body. She said that she could tell me that at the 6 month stage with relative certainty (March 2, 2009). BUT, IN HER PROFESSIONAL OPINION I AM CANCER FREE. Now there are various caveats, but Sue has always been very honest with us and Joyce and I have learned to trust her. After all, I have put my life in her hands and quite literally they have saved my life. For this I will be forever greatful.
The Tumor Board will meet next Wednesday and we will meet with Sue again next Thursday. It is possible that the Board, as a group, may decide that I should have surgery on both my left and right neck to remove the lymph nodes. Sue does not support this, but they make decisions as a group.
I am overjoyed by the news today and want to thank each and every one of you for your support (in whatever fashion) over the course of the last 5 months (to the day - I was diagnosed May 23, 2008). I am certain that I could not have survived this ordeal without your support. I love you all.
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