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    Radiation (External radiation )

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    Drug or Chemo Therapy (Chemotherapy): My first round of chemotherapy was inter-furon. It was with an I.V. done 5 days a week. I was nausea, lots of vomiting, muscle & joint aches. I was in bed for days at a time. My radiation was prior to that. Radiation treatments initially were not painful. After the first week, I started getting a real bad sore throat. I could hardly talk & it burned very badly & lasted for about 2 weeks. I did it 3 times a week for 3 weeks...each treatment lasted about 25 minutes. It was a very intense treatment that was focused on my head & neck. Unfortunately, 3 months after I had radiation, I was hospitalized for 12 days because I was aspirating all my food & had pnemonia. My epiglottis got burned during the radiation and all the food I ate was going into my lungs. I had to be put on a feeding tube for 6 weeks. During that time, I did speech therapy 3 days a week to help build up the muscles around my epiglottis, which is the flap in your throat & directs where the food is going...your lungs or stomach. If you are going to have radiation treatments in the neck/head area be sure to ask the doctor about all the side effects. What happened to me what not one of the side effects discussed. I would not have done anything differently though, because that is what I needed to do to try and stop the cancer from spreading.

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    Procedure or Surgery (Full lymph node dissection): My surgery was the most painful thing that has ever happened to to. Dr. James Warnnake performed the surgery and did a great job. The surgery lasted over 5 1/2 hours and was done at the University of Arizona medical center. My cancer started with a mole in my upper left ear. I did not even know that I had it until a friend one day said something to me. I ignored it for about 6 months. It then started itching. I would scratch it, then a scab formed, I would then pick the scab; I know....my Mom always told me to never pick scabs while growing up, but I ignored her. It would scab over again & then I would pick it. I did this for several weeks and honestly didn't think anything of it. Until one night I was laying in bed and I told my wife that I had this intense pain that started at my ear, went down the side of my cheek & neck, and down under my armpit. It scared me, but yet I didn't think much of it. The pain went away, but then the next few days the same thing happened. I told my wife that I think the pain had something to do with my scab in my ear that I had been picking at for the previous few weeks. We decided that I should go to a dermatologist and get it checked out. I did that in late September of 2011. My dermatologist looked at the upper inside lip of my ear, along with going over my entire body. He said that he didn't like what he saw in my ear & cut it out & did a biopsy on it. He called my back 5 days later, asked to see both my wife and I, which I new was not a good sign. He then explained that my mole was malignant, that it was over 4 mm, had ulcerated and was likely in my lymph nodes. That news was devastating. He immediately scheduled me to see a specialist in lymph nodes, and head/neck surgery. Let's just say the next few weeks were VERY STRESSFUL. I met with Doctor Warnake in October, he had reviewed my pathology report. He was very careful in what he said, but explained that surgery was needed. At that point I did not know the extent of the surgery and neither did he, as he explained to us what would take place. Honestly, I thought a small portion of my ear was going to be removed, but had NO IDEA how serious this whole thing was. He removed over half of my ear, cut into my skull to try and get clear "margins", cut down my neck, removed 40 lymph nodes, 6 were cancerous. I had 2 tumors that were over 14 mm behind my ear, which I had noticed/felt 2 lumps & told the doctor. He removed my parotid gland and my saliva gland, which both had cancer. As previously mentioned, I have never experienced SO MUCH PAIN. I was in the hospital for 3 days "recovering". Because of the location of the surgery, cutting into my head & neck, according to the doctor dozens of nerves, tendons & muscles were affected. The pain was very intense and was for several weeks. It was quite a shock when I saw what the doctor had done. I was still in the hospital when I saw it for the first time. I was stunned & devastated. I told my wife not to look the 2nd day while in the hospital & the nurses came in to change the bandage. When she saw what had happened she became nausea and started crying uncontrollably. We both just hugged each other for a very long time, cried together and comforted each other. I think she was more shocked than I was. I was a very difficult thing to see and realize what had happened.

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