The Start

I will start w/ the three emails I sent to friends before I came here.

8/17/11
I’ve got cancer.
It’s called Sino Nasal Undifferentiated Carcinoma (sp). It is in my left sinus. It is rare (less than 100 cases/year in USA), and ‘aggressive’.
Fortunately, I went to the doctor only about a month after first seeing some traces of blood in my spit and snot. So hopefully I am Stage 1 or less. I feel fine.
Dr. sent me to a great man, Dr. Matthew Finerman in Century City. He poked around, saw a polyp, did an MRI, did surgery to remove some of the polyp and have a biopsy done. He did not remove all of the polyp b/c that is a big, involved operation right next to the eye and brain, and if it was benign, …….why bother? It was not benign. He suspected something rare; SNUC.
A sample was sent to an SNUC specialist in NY. I guess w/ less than 100 cases/year, there are not a lot of biopsy specialists in this type of cancer.
Dr. Finerman handed me off to Marilene Wang at UCLA Otolaryngology dept. where she is a professor and surgeon.
There I had a PET/CT scan on the head, neck, and torso to see if the cancer has spread any. That was today. Dr. Wang suspects no spread, but….
On Fri I will have that second surgery to scrape out the rest (we hope) of the polyp and grind a bit off of a nearby bone where the polyp rests. Both the previous surgery and this one are like the arthroscopic surgery I had on both knees; in and out w/ tools and camera on a long needle. It’s an outpatient procedure!
Then after a couple weeks, I will commence chemotherapy. Then radiation treatment for six weeks or so.
Biggi has put on her journalist hat in regard to this, has done much research, and is now my non-degreed advisor. An advisor who loves me. I love my health/cancer advisor. I do what she says. One of the first things she told me was, “Don’t look up this cancer online.” I can see a couple reasons why; I have not done so, nor will I. But I figure for a few months I can eat (and not eat) just about anything. It starts w/ things to avoid; red meat, dairy, sugar, non-sea salt, alcohol, etc. Flax seed, green tea, etc, and ONLY healthy, safe, non-industrial food. That’s really not too far from what we do already. And really, since it’s my job now, I don’t have any misgivings or cravings for those things that will harm me.
And so, like I said, now I have a new job. It pays nothing, the hours are long, work conditions suck, but it has a great script. In it, the handsome hero ‘kicks cancer’s ass’ (Richard Pryor describing John Wayne in 1978) and goes on with his life. Being a new job, I don’t have the inclination to complain about it. It’s a good job.

Chuck

8/20/11
Things are looking up.
Yesterday, 8/19/11, I had the second operation. It was the same thing, except this time by Marilene Wang at UCLA. Just as the first time, I feel no pain. Now I have an entire bottle of Codeine and another of Vicodin; party’s at my place!
Dr. Wang had less heavy lifting to do than my first ENT, Dr. Finerman (he had to remove most of that polyp which was filling one of those small inlets of the sinuses), but she had to be just a BIT more precise, as she was grinding (w/ a burr!) sinus bone and scraping sinus surface in order to remove ALL trace of the tumor, in VERY close proximity to my brain and eye. All this done at the end of a stick up my nose and halfway (seemingly) to the rear of my head; endoscopic (inner) surgery. Eye to TV to hands without making me a blind vegetable. Thank you, dear surgeons!
Last night my lower throat was a bit sore where the pipe w/ the oxygen and anesthesia was going in. I found out that general anesthesia will stop your breathing, so that is why the oxygen pipe is there. I forgot to ask why the heart does not stop too. Do you know?
So now I have about one week until the chemicals start flowing. I guess it will be two sessions of about two hours each where they put the pipe in my vein and open the valve. Those two weeks will be the part of this whole process that will not feel good. Just part of the job.
Here is the one cancer page that Brigitte has forwarded to me (the others I’m told not to seek); http://www.cancertutor.com/AltTreatments/Alt_Diet.html It is full of ‘facts’ and also a fair share of opinion. It is one of the pages she found w/ a lot of diet information. Such as:
Foods that contain nutrients that kill the cancer cells, stop the spread of cancer, or in some other way help treat the cancer (e.g. purple grapes with seeds and skin, red raspberries with seeds, strawberries with seeds, broccoli, cauliflower, several herbs, carrots, pineapples, almonds,
That is good for me; I have made an index card (remember those?) w/ this list to take to the store/market, until I have it memorized. But the thing that gets me about these Websites that are done by true believers is the overbearing belief in the Right Way, and the opinions as facts, and the facts that may not be stated, and the facts that may be incorrect. Sort of like thinking you know the news of the day by watching a TV news variety show on Fox or MSNBC.
So for lunch today I had some leftover fresh (not dried) kidney beans w/ tomato, artichoke in a vinaigrette of our backyard lemon juice and a little (very little – it’s $14 for 250 ml) flaxseed oil (medium). Good, AND good for ya!

And that’s the news for now, Chuck

9/14/11
What’s takin’ so long?!
Never thought I’d be impatient to have someone poison and burn me. But it’s what must be done.
I’ve been to UCLA a few times in the last two weeks for more tests and fittings for this coming chemo/radiation. Maxillofacial prosthetics took a look at my teeth to see if any were weak or poor. (More praise for my excellent chompers) Why? B/c the radiation will weaken my skin and bones around my teeth and if ever a tooth would need to be removed, the bone might not ever heal. Ever. I will now go to the dentist every three months for a cleaning. Forever.
Oh, another byproduct of radiation is the diminishing of saliva. That may come back in a few years. Or not. Basically, my lower head will be sunburnt, inside and out.
Other stuff: fitted trays to put in fluoride paste every night. A jaw divider/tongue depressor to wear during the radiation. A $325 device to have me open my mouth wide, as the radiation will screw up those muscles.
Here is what I’m in for on the chemical front:
“Steve, given the specific regimen we use, it would be ideal if you start XRT on a Monday. Looks like the 19th fits. MR.

Viviana, plz sched Mr. Mason to start cisplatin/etoposide on Monday the 19th. It will be in Varian later. It’s cisplatin on the 19th and 26th, and etoposide every day from the 19th to 23rd. This is standard treatment for sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma. Thnx. MR.”

(This is from the chemo man to the radiation man and their nurses.)

I’m getting into the new diet. There are lots of great ways to eat w/o meat. It helps to have a loving wife who knows how to cook very well and is enthusiastic to explore new foods and processes and recipes. We still eat some meat, as I need the protein, and I’m an omnivore. I’m down to 168 lbs and I need the weight/muscle to make it through the punishment that is coming. We have devised lists of good anti-cancer foods, and that is almost all that I eat (Brigitte too). I’m a big juicer now that I have the $400 kick-ass slow-rpm masticating juicer (Omega VRT 350).

But now I just sort of improvise w/ what I have available. Of course, carrots, apples, ginger, and celery are usually available in the fridge. Then maybe beets, broccoli, oranges, lemons (from our tree), kale, tomatoes.
I still run and lift weights. Why not? – there is no change in my physical state currently. Just a little lighter in the left sinus. Well, that and those 7 or 10 lbs that I seem to have lost recently.
I am still working (America’s Got Talent this coming Fri and Sat). I have not told any coworkers about all this (aside from the crew I was on when all of this started). I don’t want to be written off just yet. When I get calls in the future, I will be ‘unavailable’ for a couple months. That’s all.

Enough about me for now.

Chuck

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About chucksnuc

If you stop struggling, then you stop life.
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