Part of my scar to the upper left of my ear, and as you can see my nose is still there!
After six rounds of chemotherapy and six and a half weeks of radiation my once inoperable tumor had been shrunk down enough to remove through surgery. There was still a debate whether I should do
the surgery or not. It was a possibility that the chemotherapy and radiation not only shrunk the tumor, but may have killed it as well making surgery unnecessary. Unfortunately, there is no way to know if that is the case without inspecting the entire tumor.
On the other hand, if even one cancer cell remained it would regenerate fiercely. If a tumor is allowed to regenerate it becomes 'angry,' meaning
it will grow faster and spread more rapidly making it more likely to result in death. Hearing that, the first thought is why wouldn't you do the surgery? Well, the surgery, as I'm sure you can imagine is very dangerous as well.
The doctors will cut my head open from ear to ear, peal my forehead down, remove a section of my forehead to remove the tumor behind my eyes and in my brain while another surgeon goes
through my nose and removes the tumor in my sinuses. Just being put under anesthesia is dangerous let alone the blood loss and the damage that could occur to my brain.
I had to rationalize it this way, I could wait and see if the tumor grew, and most likely die if it did, or I could roll the dice and do the surgery and at least have a 50/50 chance. So, I rolled the dice.
The week before surgery is a decathlon of testing. I had appointments with internal medicine doctors, Anesthesiologists, MRI's, chest xrays, etc. The last meetings were with my Neurosurgeon and my Ear, Nose, and
Throat surgeon. They explained the procedure to me with great detail, and then they handed me some forms to sign. Theses forms are basically a list of about 30 awful things that could happen during surgery. Things such as: heart attack, stroke, bleeding of
the brain, air in the brain, memory loss, loss of motor skills, death, paralysis, disfigurement, blindness, personality changes, etc. I look at every item on the list and assess them carefully. Somethings are not as alarming like heart attack, people survive
heart attacks all the time, or memory loss I would probably like to forget some things anyway. Even if I die, it won't matter to me at that point anyway because I'll be dead. Out of all those things on the list one little item jumped off the page and was very
alarming to me. Disfigurement.
“Could you elaborate on this one please?” I asked.
doctor told me it might be possible that he might have to make an incision on the side of my nose to get into the sinuses. I was shaking my head before he even finished talking. I looked at him with a very serious expression.
“Is it possible that I could wake up from this surgery without my nose? Because, if I wake up without a nose I won't sue you, but I might kill you. So, if that is a possibility the deal is off, and I will take my chances with the tumor.”
“You will not lose your nose,” he said, “but we may have to make a small incision on the side of it.” Again, I was shaking my head while he spoke. I pointed to my nostrils.
“Doc, you have two holes to work with, I hope you can figure it out.”
After surgery, once the anesthetic wore off, I reached
my hand to my face and felt my nose. It was still there and there were no incisions. The tumor was successfully removed (which was a good thing too, because it did still have living cancer cells). Even though a section of my brain was removed I had all of
my memories, motor skills, and it seemed my vanity was also intact.