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Where to begin?

March 11 was the day the tsunami hit Japan. I didn't know about it because our power was out. When I finally did learn of it, it made a power outage and water problem seem oh-so-small and insignificant. But I also had something else on my mind, something of a personal tsunami, if you will.

My husband found a lump on his neck, a mass of some sort that just didn't feel right. He is a doctor (a retired psychiatrist), and thus is very reluctant to see a doctor for anything. The fact that he made an appointment with our family doctor for the following week and then made an appointment with an ENT made me take it as seriously as he was taking it.

He was able to get in to see the ENT first (we subsequently canceled the family doctor appointment), who palpated the mass and declared it malignant. CT scans of the lung, head and neck were ordered. We learned the results of the scans today.

The good news – the best possible news for today – is that the head (brain) and lungs are clear. That means treatment can proceed. Had the lungs been involved, there would have been no treatment whatsoever, with an unknown prognosis. Clean lungs means he will possibly need to endure six months of chemotherapy and radiation.

Note I said 'possibly.' There is the slimmest of slim chances that what the ENT pronounced malignant could be benign. The CT of the neck had to be repeated today. Biopsies are scheduled for Friday and next Tuesday.

What kind of malignant is it? Could be a couple of things. A parotid gland would be the best – snip it out and go on your merry way. That also is the least likely possibility. Hodgkins would be okay, but he doesn't have any symptoms, other than the mass. Metastatic squamous cell neck cancer is the most likely diagnosis, the one that means six month of "hell," as the ENT put it.

So my continuing quest for a healthy life is not because I'm pregnant (see the previous post's comments), although right now that would be a preferable diagnosis to the one we may end up with. It's because I'm more than likely going to be a nurse for a while, and nurses work hard. I need to be in tiptop shape to handle – physically and emotionally – what may be coming down the pike for us.

The irony is that my husband is the thinnest he's been in his adult life. Chemotherapy usually induces a loss of appetite and tremendous weight loss. He has no pounds to spare, so we're fattening him up, just in case. Dessert has been on the menu regularly this week. The candy dish beside his TV-watching seat is full of peanut butter-and-chocolate goodies. Cookies? Sure! Bread pudding? Comin' right up.

Any day you find out your husband doesn't have lung cancer is a good one, and so I am declaring today to be magnificent. He's a lifelong smoker, more than 50 years now, and it's rather a miracle that he doesn't have some kind of lung issue going on.

He's been a non-smoker for four hours now. Maybe that's the best news of all.


3XMom said…
oh, I'm so sorry. Wishing good thoughts.
gingersnapper said…
I'm sorry, sweetie. This is a hell of a thing. I'm so glad you're well-informed about the possibilities and likelihoods - it's so hard to deal with huge unknowns. I know it's trite to say, but you really do have to take it a day at a time. All I can do is hope for the best for both of you.

Also, I hope you're planning to buy some kind of nurse's costume. Hubby will like that.
denise said…
SO sorry to hear this news, but at the same time glad that so far even the bad news has been encouraging.

Fingers crossed for the best possible benign results no matter how unlikely it may be. Miracles happen every day (for example a 50-year smoker without lung issues!).
Vickie said…
went through this (very similar story) with my BIL years ago and against all odds it was benign, so there is always hope. And very glad for you that it has not spread (if the news turns out different). Glad you are posting about it. I think it helps to 'talk'. Wishing you both the best. Glad to see you are realizing the silver lining (smoking). That always helps too.
MarilynB said…
So sorry you both are having to go through this. I'm hoping and praying for the best outcome. Tell your DH that not smoking does get easier. My DH quit in Dec. after 57 years of Lucky Strike shorts. I never thought he would do it but he has. Hugs to you both.
Catherine said…
I'm so sorry to hear this. Keeping my fingers crossed for you both.
altopower said…
What a difficult time for you both, and good for him for making appropriate appointments and following up. He was taking it seriously; not everyone does.

Take good care of yourself so you can take good care of him as well. You'll both be in my thoughts and prayers.

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