We are too young for this journey. No, I don't think there is ever an age when this journey is easier, less scary or painful. That said, this is our story. The story of Patrick's diagnosis, treatment and beyond. The story of a non smoking, non drinking, 30-year-old being diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the tongue.
It all started when Patrick mentioned that he had a spot on his tongue that was bothersome. He thought it was from a sharp tooth he had, so he suffered through for a few weeks before deciding to call the dentist office to make an appointment to have the tooth ground down. It was a Monday. He went to the appointment and came home. The girls and I were sitting in the family room playing on the floor. He said he had some good news, and some bad news. No cavities. But, the dentist referred him to an oral surgeon to check out the spot on his tongue. He continued to tell me that the dentist told him that 90% of the time the results come back as Cancer. Two days passed. I was in extreme denial or rather maybe I was just uninformed. Until then, I had no clue there was a bump, I thought it was just a scrape we were dealing with. The original oral surgeon we were referred to was not 'in network' under our insurance, so Patrick made a call and found some other doctors that were. I called and made an appointment. He would be seen two days later, a Friday.
Meanwhile, Patrick had done some serious research on Google. He started sharing some facts with me and I told him I really didn't want to hear them, and that we should stay positive. They were negative, sad, and did not have the outcome in which I was praying and hoping we would have. As this whole Cancer idea started to sink in, I kept the hope in the back of my mind that maybe the lump was benign and it would just go away on its own. We were not that lucky.
On Friday, 5 days after he saw the dentist, we dropped our oldest off at a friend's house to play while we drove to Gresham to see the oral surgeon. We waited, filled out paper work, and waited some more. We were told that the doctor Patrick would be seeing was not covered by our insurance. The other doctor in the office was, but he was not in. We opted to pay the extra $35 out of pocket as our concern was growing and we wanted some answers. Patrick's name was called. He headed back and had a full panel of X-Rays taken. I sat in the waiting room and rocked our youngest to sleep. She laid on my chest, and I waited impatiently. Then, the secretary told me that we would be heading straight over to a Head and Neck surgeon and that visit/doctor might not be covered by insurance, but we might not have a choice. My heart sunk into my stomach and I felt helpless. She looked at our sleeping baby and mentioned that children are the best medicine. She knew something we didn't. Patrick came back out and I could see the sadness and fear in his eyes. We spoke with the secretary one more time and left. We hugged in the entry way of the medical office building, speaking volumes without words.
We arrived at the second doctor's office, where we waited for over an hour. I nursed and rocked Harlow to sleep one more time and held her. Patrick was called back. I waited some more. My phone's battery was barely charged, I was trying not to move to wake the baby, so I stared and thought. Thought and stared. Still trying to be optimistic, but keeping in mind we had heard 'cancer' from two doctors by this time. Patrick sent me a text; Going to do biopsy. May have to wait just a bit...Biopsy results take about 5 days to come back.
More waiting. We left with another appointment scheduled and the understanding that if the results came in before then, the doctor would call.
The doctor did call. Wednesday, January 19th at 10:24 a.m. I was stepping out of the shower and I heard, "I don't think so. It's just a lot to take in." I turned the corner and saw Patrick on the phone. It was confirmed. Carcinoma.