Near the end of October I found out from a biopsy that I had Squamous Cell Carcinoma in the back pocket of my mouth. Before this biopsy information was given to me I thought at the time it was because I was brushing to hard. I also had a impacted tooth back there thus making me think that something was of issue with the impaction not cancer.
Here are some basic stats on me:
Haven’t been to the dentist in many years but do keep good oral care.
Don’t smoke, Don’t drink except socially ( maybe 4 times a year ) and don’t chew tobacco.
Don’t do any drugs of any kind other than what might be prescribed on rare occasions.
Never had any known health issues leading up to this point.
After a couple of weeks of hearing this news from the oral surgeon who took the biopsy I went to see Dr. Bailey to get a consultation of what this really meant. Leading up to this first meeting I was thinking oh they will just cut a piece out or even had suggestions as to maybe burn it off or something to that effect. I didn’t understand how serious and evasive the surgical procedure to remove it would be. Dr.Bailey was to the point of the issue and the varying degree’s to which it could effect me. The shocker was the fact that a section of my jaw was possibly to be removed. Hell even the suggestion of shaving some bone off ( depending on the cancer size and location ) for removal was enough to make me sick. Needless to say my stomach somewhat dropped at the reality of the circumstances. That day they set up a CT scan of my head and chest using the awesome tastes like metal dye/peeing your pants feeling.
The good thing from those scans was it seemed there was no cancer anywhere else in my body and so we could now focus on the task at hand in my mouth. Although there was another biopsy I had done on the back part of my tongue as a precaution because of a small nodule. Dr. Lansford preformed this and the results came back negative for cancer.
I know everyone responds diffrent to such news but I was pretty calm about it until I saw this guys site who had roughly the same cancer in the same spot that I had. He also showed some photo’s of the surgery which really brought home the real reality of this.
Here is his site: Smokeless Tobacco and My Cancer
I had many a down moments after reading about this guys story and seeing the images, especially the images. Not only was it about taking some jaw but the reconstruction from you leg and for having a PEG Tube as well just led to the strange surreal feeling of becoming a Frankenstein. Thing about Curtis ( the guy in the link above ) is that he dipped for some 30 or so years before getting caner. Where as I didn’t and sometimes that would piss me off thinking on that fact. I’m really grateful though to finding Curtis and that he was really willing to talk about his experience in detail. In some ways it helped me mentally prepare for what was about to happen.
The other compounding issue was with each Dr. visit in preparation to the surgery. I found out I had cancer at the end of October and the surgery wasn’t scheduled until Dec 17th. Dr.Bailey on each visit, in response to my questions, had more and more possible negative outcomes of this procedure, or reality’s. One day it was my shoulder could droop and it would take some therapy to regain some kind of function pre surgery. Next time it was a certain degree of numbness would be around my lip and it possibly having a slight droop as if I had a stroke. Each visit had a small degree of extra possible outcomes that just made me go ” Well let’s just keep piling it on” even though the surgery hasn’t happened yet.
The major nerve running through my jaw was going to have to be compromised completely since a good section was to be removed. All those nerves in the lower jaw and neck area don’t like to be messed with. Allot of knowledge, skill and rolling some dice had to come together in hopes of getting rid of this bad thing and keeping some functionality in the process. The thing that is strange moving forward into describing and showing the surgery is I wasn’t feeling ill because of the cancer. Only a mild soreness which didn’t effect my daily life.
That isn’t’ to say I’m not happy to this point it seems to be effectively removed it’s just I didn’t have that sick experience going in. It’s kind of like I’m good and healthy then someone says ” Hey can we cut a piece of jaw out and use part of your leg tissue and bone to reconstruct?”, ” What no?”, ” Well we are doing it anyways”. Then boom there you are wondering what the hell. Then again I wouldn’t have wanted it to have grown to the point of effecting me in some negative way since I’m sure if it was at that point that would have been allot more worse than as it stood.
Around the end of November I embraced the whole process and just decided to face it head on. Once that realization hit me it was easy to move forward, visit Dr’s, and hear the truth also make fun of myself and the whole thing surrounding it as odd as that may seem.
( note: anyone wanting more info on the months leading up to surgery please feel free to email me.)