Friday, 2015/07/10 ~ Tuesday, 2015/07/20 – Is This Cancer?

Friday, 7/10: See Dr. L (Primary Care Physician)

By the day of the appointment with my primary care doctor, the swelling had become uncomfortable, but not painful – just sensitive.  This lady has been keeping me alive and healthy for decades, and she not only knows me, and medicine, and how to help me take care of myself, but she is a good friend and teacher.  Dr. L did a physical exam, ordered some blood tests to rule out tonsillitis and mumps, and referred me to a Head and Neck specialist. This is serious.

Monday, 7/19: See Head and Neck Surgeon

By the time of my appointment with Head & Neck Surgery, the swelling had begun to hurt frequently, a dull ache and stiffness. Dr. S is an incredibly warm, concerned, competent and clearly-spoken man. I feel very fortunate to have him helping me. He took needle biopsies and sent me for a CT scan. The biopsies came back inconclusive, but the CT scan strongly indicated a Squamous Cell Carcinoma, originating in my right tonsil, and metastasizing (spreading to organs separate from the initial growth) to several lymph nodes nearby, surrounding my carotid artery. Cancer. That’s when the DNA of a cell gets damaged, but instead of repairing itself or dying, the cell continues to grow and to reproduce more cells with similar damaged DNA, like a zombie. It actually happens a lot, in every person, but when their immune system does not recognize and destroy the renegade cells, it becomes cancer. More information on cancer in general:


Tuesday, 07/20: X-rays from my CT scan (Computer Tomography)


A typical X-ray of me in coronal view (from in front of me) taken along with the CT scan on Wednesday, 7/22.

A coronal view, as if I had been sliced from top to bottom, about halfway through my body, and the front part removed, to expose this cross section. The yellow marks the area where there is cancer in my lymph nodes.

An axial view, as if they had cut off my head and you were looking at it from below. The yellow marks the area where there is cancer in my lymph nodes.



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