Posted 6/9/2015 6:10 PM (GMT -7)
Had a long day in Columbia with the VA. Had to make the 250 mile round trip alone, as my wife had just taken off a lot of paid time off dealing with my mother's death.
I spent about 1/2 hour with a very good NP, liked her a lot. Very compassionate and caring, and had no problem finding the growth in my left cheek. (More than I can say for my civilian doctors). After reading my cancer history, in particular, the porocarcinoma events (3x), she was alarmed. Just happened, the head surgeon of the ENT department had just come out of surgery. She brought him in to give me a 2nd exam and 2nd opinion. He found it immediately, and had equal concern. Spent about 45 minutes with him.
He's decided on immediate surgery, said its been there too long and if it is a return of the porocarcinoma, said its too dangerous not to do something. Surgery is scheduled for June 23rd (that's rocket speed fast for the VA). I spent an hour with the anesthesiologist, so that I wouldn't have to make a special trip back.
He said it appears to be at least 3mm x 3mm, but its either attached or is wrapping around an artery. He said with all my radiation damage, it will be a careful, but touchy surgery. He's going to make as small an incision as possible, and using a scope, and is hoping to pull whatever it is through a small hole, to lessen the cut. Said that healing may be slowed due to all the damage in that area.
He ranted about all the radiation that had been given to my throat and neck in 2000. He said it was criminal almost and reckless, and how incredibly dangerous it was. Unlike most doctors, he knew a little bit about porocarcinoma, and said it was like weeds in a garden. You can cut it out, but it will keep returning. This new area is only 2" or less from the scar from the lymph nodes that were removed last time, so he said he wasn't surprised if this ends up being the case.
Aside from normal post-surgery pathology, he's going to send it to the VA's national pathology center, to get a more advanced reading, as he said, no one would be looking for something as rare and exotic as porocarcinoma.
My ex-boss has already offered to pay for us to stay in a hotel in Columbia the night before and after surgery if needed. Expected to go home same day if all goes well.
I honestly didn't expect this to turn out to be this dramatic and on such a short time line when I went there this morning. Was glad I was taken serious this time around.
He said if it is cancer, the problem will be that I would not able to have either radiation or chemo as a follow-up. He said that another major radiation event for me could easily be fatal, that wasn't good to hear, but not surprised. Other doctors have made the same remark.
Now I am still lined up for the dermatologist to look at the growth on my scalp, and the eye doctor to look at the lump in my right eye. So while making progress, still a lot of dark, unknown answers waiting to be found out.
From 2008 to present ,I have had to have at least one or more surgery every single year except for 2013. And the end is not in sight yet.
I will say, was very impressed with the level of care, concern, and professional attitude with the VA today, couldn't have been better.