I don't usually use my blog to share personal stories, especially challenging health issues, but I am making an exception now because the information I share with you in this post might save your life or the life of someone you know.
I am 57 years young and until recently never been to a hospital. I don't smoke or drink (Only wine and beer occasionally) and I watch what I eat and work out in a gym on a regular basis. About 18 months ago I noticed a swelling of my lymph nodes in my neck. After consulting with a doctor it was thought to be an infection and over a period of three months we tried different antibiotics. As there was no pain I pretty much ignored it until they started to get larger. I finally went to an ear nose and throat specialist who, after putting a scope down my nose, declared I had cancer of the base of the tongue, which had spread to my lymph nodes. He had me immediately go to two other doctors in the same building to confirm his findings. One of the doctors was a surgeon who specialized in neck surgery. He took one look and told me that this was probably caused by a virus known as Human papillomavirus or HPV. He explained that there was an "epidemic" of non-smoking non drinking head and neck cancers attributed to the HPV 16 or 18 strain.
I asked the doctor how I could have gotten this cancer and he told me that it is the same cancer that women get in their cervix and that 70% of women carry the virus yet only a small percentage lead to cancer. They believe it is transmitted sexually. So what can I do about it and what was the prognosis? They recommended a seven week program of chemo therapy combined with radiation. After that I would probably need a neck dissection. The doctors told me the five year survival rate was "pretty good". Later I found out for typical head and neck cancers at my stage was pretty dismal.
You can imagine my shock at hearing all of this within the span of about two hours and the many thoughts racing through my head. How was I going to tell my wife and children.
Now, lets fast forward to today 6 months later. I have to say that the standard treatment for this kind of cancer is the very aggressive and difficult and for me it was exceptionally so. The radiologist had warned me that this is the most difficult cancer to treat for the patient because the treatment was directed at the very area of the body you need in order to eat, drink and speak. I won't go into the difficulties I encountered now, (you can read it here #61 down the page) but it was extremely difficult with many side effects that nearly killed me on several occasions. I have been out of treatment now for 3 months and I am sill weak having lost 50 lbs, 25% of my body weight. I have very little saliva so eating is challenging and I am still dealing with numerous side effects from the high doses of radiation and chemotherapy. But, I am alive!
And there is some good news that has come out of this experience which is why I am sharing this story with you. First of all my recent scans show complete regression of all tumors and no sign of cancer. Recent studies have shown that head and neck cancers caused by the HPV virus are more responsive to treatment than cancers caused by smoking and drinking. In addition, the survival rate for HPV related cancer cannot be determined because all of those treated are still alive.
After going through this experience, I stumbled on a cancer treatment that is highly effective with none or very little of the side effects I had to deal with. It is called Hyperthermia low dose radiation. By increasing the temperature of the tumors to 108 degrees F. and then using a low dose radiation in the same manner as standard treatments, they have achieved an 87% cure rate with head and neck cancers. They do not use chemo and because of the low radiation dose over a longer time period, you have a more effective treatment without the severe side effects. The treatment is effective on breast and prostate cancer as well as a number of others. This type of treatment is being done in a center in California as well as in Germany. It is FDA approved and insurance will cover it. I have spent a great deal of time speaking with the doctors involved in this treatment protocol as well as some of the patients. I only wish I had known about it before I went through my ordeal.
I was told how important your families support is during and after treatment for all cancers. I really don't think I would have survived without the support of my family and friends, especially my dear wife Thalia. I think it has been harder on her than me. Because of all the environmental damage we are inducing into the world, the prevalence of cancer is growing like never before. Although my cancer may not have been directly related to environmental issues, my immune system may have been compromised by pollutants which allowed the virus to take hold. Doctors say that at least one out of every three people will get cancer in their life times. If you are one of those who have been given this great challenge in your life, I encourage you to take a careful look into the treatment I described above. And I especially encourage you to keep a positive attitude and not give up. Everyday is a precious gift so don't waste it.
One of my blogs readers send me this document that I wish I had read before I went through standard treatment. Seems there is a way to greatly improve the odds you can beat cancer and it is science based.