Day 124 Post Radiation/Chemotherapy Treatments. (229 days since near-total glossectomy to remove tongue cancer) 👅
We met with Dr. Monroe on Friday, January 5, 2018 for a follow up to the infection that took us to the ER at the SLC VA on New Year’s Eve.
The good news… Dr. Monroe did not see any evidence on the CT scan or during his inspection of Tony’s mouth that would suggest a recurrence of the cancer tumor which sometimes happens with squamous cell carcinoma.
The antibiotic is doing its job at wiping out the infection under the tongue flap along the left jaw bone.
What Dr. Monroe did find is an area about the size of a pencil eraser on the left mandible near the site of where the infection was where the soft tissue is missing and the bone is exposed. This is radiation necrosis, a complication of radiotherapy.
Studies have shown that attempting to treat this situation usually results in creating more damage. Something as simple as a graft isn’t possible because the tissues are essentially dead and the graft would die.
As horrible as it sounds, the best plan of action is to be mindful that it is there, watch and treat any secondary infection as it happens and give the body time to repair itself. (A long time!)
Tony cannot have any dental work done without the approval of Dr. Monroe as any procedure could make the situation worse. The worst-case scenario that only happens in less than 10% of patients would be deterioration that would lead to surgery to replace the mandible.
Issues like this following radiation are common and can happen from weeks to three years following radiation.
Tony isn’t in any pain most of the time. When he gets dehydrated or hungry, the left jaw begins to ache.
Taking It in Stride
While it took me a couple of days to process the information and stop freaking out about it, Tony took it in stride. On the way home from the appointment we stopped at Pace’s Dairy Ann where Tony chowed on a halibut basket.
On Saturday morning Josie, Tony and I made it over to the new Planet Fitness where Tony enjoyed a workout. He is determined to rebuild the muscle he lost last year.
Since we missed New Year’s Eve, we had a few friends over on Saturday night for appetizers and games. It was just what we needed!
Words cannot express how grateful we are for your prayers and service to our family. We are so blessed to have your loving support. Thank you! 🙏🏻