It’s been a long wait, but I finally have some good news to share. I’m happy to report that all margins are clear from the December 22 surgery, everything is looking good, and I’m healing as expected. No radiation or chemo is needed at this time. The follow-up appointments for monitoring begin in March. Giving God ALL thanks and praise! Your prayers made a difference!
About a third of my tongue has been removed, mostly from the right side, beginning at the far back near my tonsil. The tip of the tongue is gone, too, and that goes from the right side to the left. My speech is definitely affected, but I am amazed – and grateful – that I can speak as well as I can. Swallowing is going pretty well but there are many foods I cannot eat. I am still limited to very soft, “slurpy” foods, like soups. The other day I was enjoying some pudding and was caught offguard when, out of habit, I tried to lick the spoon. I couldn’t do it. No more ice cream cones for me. It’s okay. I know how to use a spoon.
When I first received the diagnosis of cancer last September (and, honestly, it seems like this journey has been going on much longer than that) I had a very hard time wrapping my head around the idea that this was really happening to me. I felt fine. I never noticed even one tiny bit of discomfort, pain, or other symptom that would cause me to wonder if there was something wrong. It took the trained eye of a dental hygienist to spot a potential problem.
As the whirlwind of appointments, tests, and procedures began, the cold, hard reality finally sank in. One day, I wrote the words “tongue cancer” on a piece of paper so I could read those words in my own handwriting. Somehow, that made everything seem more real.
Late yesterday afternoon, I got the good news. Even so, the surgeon did not say I was “cancer free” or that I would never have to deal with this again. We know that this form of cancer is aggressive, and often recurring. What seems odd to me is that someone like myself who does not drink, smoke, and is HPV negative is actually in a subset of people who have the worst long-term prognosis with this type of cancer. Ironic, isn’t it? And now, I find myself struggling to fully accept the recent “good news” as much as I did the original “bad news.”
Long term, I may or may not be *done* with cancer, but in no way does that take away from today’s joy. If anything, it makes this moment shine all the brighter. Today, right now, I can get back to living my life in peace, and with a renewed confidence in God’s plan for my life. I’m back to making videos for my YouTube Channel, even though I am still pretty self-conscious about my speech. And I’m really, really ready for a road trip.