“Yours will be a straightforward surgery,” Dr. Maghami said five years ago in a City of Hope examining room. “I won’t need to crack your jaw or do anything disfiguring.” That, believe me, was good news. I didn’t want my grandchildren secretly referring to me as Scary Grandma.
So, let me get right to the happy ending. I am celebrating five years with no recurrence of cancer. A spot of cancer was skillfully removed from the back of my tongue and also, as a precaution, 22 benign lymph nodes from my neck. My tongue seems as grateful as I am. Didn’t need chemo. Didn’t need radiation. This is definitely an express route away from Halloween and straight toward Thanksgiving!
Therefore, I deeply thank:
- My dentist Dr. Kim who noticed that suspicious patch and advised me to have it biopsied.
- Dave Harris, who told us how to get in touch with Dr. Maghami.
- Ellie Maghami, my gifted Head and Neck surgeon.
- Valerie, my speech therapist who taught me that the tongue is a strong muscle and won’t break. She also gave me those silly exercises to develop perfect speech.
- My husband, who handled all the stress, all the paperwork, all the driving — and who slept on a chair in my hospital room. Don also walked up and down the corridor with me, closing the back of my hospital gown as I wheeled my IV pole out front.
- My first-born son Darin who asked more than once when he could visit me in the hospital, even though I assumed such a visit wouldn’t help either one of us. But it did. He also brought:
- His sister/my daughter Andrea, who taught me how to blog and who suggested the name Tongue In Cheek – while I blatantly added Cancer Is Hard To Swallow (click here) Tongue In Cheek – Cancer Is Hard To Swallow. It became my journal and also a reference for friends and family so Don wouldn’t have to repeat information over and over on the phone each night.
- My middle-born son Justin who, from 2,000 miles away, sent a single-word expletive via email, which pretty much summed up everyone’s feelings. He and his family have since moved to California.
- My dear mother who, once I was home, wanted to help. She toddled across the room with my glass of water balanced on the seat of her walker. “Oh, I feel so useful!,” she sighed with a smile. I miss you, Mom.
- The Conners, who not only fixed dinner, but who drove it from Glendora to Whittier to sit and eat with us.
- Juli, who sent humorous gifts from Illinois (my favorite item being a hand mirror with beautiful rosy lips painted on the non-magnified side).
- Treasured friends who sent greeting cards and who wrote such tender expressions of caring. I saved those cards for five years and re-read them last week.
I will see Dr. Maghami on Tuesday and plan to walk in with a a big smile and a mylar balloon in the shape of a “5.” She’ll probably say, as she did on the First Anniversary, “This calls for a hug.”