January 30, 2010
As most of you already know, John was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue. He has a large tumor (about 5-6 cm) on the base of his tongue. John’s symptoms began to appear around mid November 2009, when he noticed some discomfort in his throat and his voice become slightly hoarse. He informed his doctor of the symptoms at his annual physical exam on November 30th. He was referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, who diagnosed the cancer January, 2010.
So now our journey begins in Los Angeles at UCLA Medical Center, where we believe the best treatment is available for John so that he will once again be cancer free. We are very lucky to have John’s son and daughter in law, Johnny and Nicole, in Mission Viejo. They have opened up their lovely home to us for as long as needed. It may take a while to beat this thing, and believe me we are taking this fight “head on”. We are “all in” on the toughest hand we have ever been dealt. We’ve now been here for about a week, and have made several sixty-five mile trips to and from UCLA. The trip can be very long during rush hour traffic, so we decided to take an apartment a few miles from UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. This will make the commute more bearable and convenient, especially after treatment begins. We also need to make the move while the kids still like us!
We have seen many doctors thus far starting with a Head and Neck Specialist. We have learned that head and neck cancers are quite complicated and need specialized care. We have also met with the radiation therapist who is setting up the radiation plan which is quite an ordeal in itself. It requires simulating John’s body with a couple of scans in order to make the plan. He’s also seeing a maxillofacial (oral and dental) to take measures to save John’s teeth and jaw bone. Radiation will start once the plan is complete and he gets clearance from the dental specialist. The next appointments will be with a speech therapist and a nutritionist. The speech therapist will help John maintain the ability to continue using his mouth and tongue muscles during radiation. The nutritionist’s goal is to keep John hydrated and to avoid him from having to use a feeding tube to get the nutrients he needs to keep up his strength. As most of you know, John doesn’t have a lot of pounds to spare.
Lastly, we have already seen a medical oncologist and John had his first chemo treatment this past Tuesday, January 26th. It went well and will continue once a week until radiation ends. The purpose of the chemo is to shrink the size of the tumor so the radiation has less cancer to kill.
We will keep you posted and add photos depicting our temporary life in LA. We can’t thank everyone enough for their love and support during this battle. We are confident that we will come out winners. For all of you wanting to know what you can do, we’re not shy. So, if we need something, we’ll call on you for help. Keep the emails coming or post a message here. We are very grateful to have each and every one of our family members and friends in our lives. Thanks again, Elaine and John Kluve
p.s. We will be posting updates at least once a week.