By Kenny, Stage III Tonsil Cancer Survivor, CanCare Volunteer
Sometimes you feel a lump and wonder what it is. I had a small lump about the size of my little finger just inside my right jaw bone, one inch from the joint. After about 3 or 4 weeks, I decided to go see my doctor. The doctor looked in my mouth and sent me straight to an ENT. She took a biopsy and three days later called me back in for the results. I heard those terrible words, “you have cancer”. It was in my tonsils and lymphoid. She told me it was treatable, and one of the easiest to treat. Over the next 22 days, I had 18 appointments, a CT scan, blood work, a feeding tube, a mediport, a PET scan and the next thing I knew I was in treatment.
The first two radiation treatments were scary and stressful having the mesh mold clamping my head to the table. Everything seemed to move really fast to me, but I knew that the last week of my treatment and the two weeks after were going to be the worst. I kept a positive attitude throughout my treatment. At the end of my last week, I ended up in the ER. I fought off the nausea until the end of my last week but couldn’t fight it anymore. I just couldn’t stop it no matter what I did. Through all that happened during my treatments, my Radiation Oncologist was wonderful about informing me what to expect every week. This made the treatments and what was happening easier to deal with but I wish I would have known about CanCare when it all started. I still had questions all the time.
While going through treatment, I promised myself that when I was able, I would do something to help someone else. I found out about CanCare and took the volunteer training class. One of the exercises in the class was for us to stand under a sign on the wall that said, “What was the first emotion you felt when you found out you had cancer?” The options were, fear, shock, death, anxiety, depression, loneliness and anger. I stood under shock. It was the first thing I felt, but within 24 hours I felt all the other things too.
I now have one CanCare client that had cancer in his tonsils just like I did. When we spoke the first time, he helped me as much as I helped him. It felt good and also reminded me what I endured and overcame. CanCare keeps me focused on my health and giving back to others. Giving back is a great reward.