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Venkata (Skin Cancer): Brighter Tomorrow For A Healthy Life

Venkata (Skin Cancer): Brighter Tomorrow For A Healthy Life

Hello All, I am Venkata Madugundu (Age 34) from India, working as a Software Engr with Big Blue. Eight months ago, I started seeing a small leukoplakic patch on the right lateral border on the bottom side of my tongue. I contacted an Oncologist, who said it was leukoplakia and advised me to grind the sharp teeth, but the dentist said there was no need to grind as it is equally sharp as the other side of the tongue. It slowly started becoming ulcerous in around four months. This time, the dentist said, Go for a Biopsy. It proved to be Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which I had suspected for nearly six months. The tumour size was around 1.5 cm x 1.5 cm, which the doctor said was small enough and very localized by that time.

Now, Surgery was done on June 10th 2011. MRI showed lymph nodes were good, but the doctor did a neck dissection and removed nine lymph nodes, one submandibular salivary gland, etc.; all were negative for metastasis. That was good news. Post-surgery, I was able to speak, but with a slur. I was feeling better 20 days after Surgery. The tongue healed completely but was numb. I lost only 3 kgs by that time. Every pound counts as I am lean.

In the subsequent consultation post-surgery, the tumour board advised going for preventive adjuvant Radiotherapy aided by sensitizing chemo (cisplatin). This scared me very much, and it proved correct.

After two chemos, acidity started showing up, which I never had. Radiation and chemo combined were causing enough distress. Now into 20th exposure among 30, here are my major problems:

  • 1. Trismus: Able to open only two index fingers width: max 3 cm.
  • 2. Very thick saliva, pungent in odour, turns yellowish if kept in the mouth for 15 to 20 minutes. It fills up the throat during the night, depriving me of sleep (I have been on sleeping pills for the past two days)
  • 3. Left lateral tongue border ulceration of around 1 cm width, 4 cm length. Yellowish in colour, representing mouth sore.
  • 4. I Forgot to tell you that two teeth adjoining the tumour were removed, but the last teeth (if I can call it the third molar) were spared. That should have been removed because it touches the rear edge of the mouth and gets a little inside. I am unsure what to do with it as a dentist advised me not to go for extraction for the next six months.
  • 5. Cisplatin chemo has induced acidity, which I think is slowly reducing.

For #1 above, I have ordered Therabite. I hope that helps.

For #2 above, practically, how much time it takes for the saliva to thin? Whatever is produced (I am ready to embrace Dry mouth but not thick saliva). For every sentence that I have to speak, I need to spit it out.

For #3 above, I believe ulceration will go away.

For #4, I can bear with it.

Now, coming to the emotional aspects, it feels depressing to bear through the trauma of these treatments and the strong urge to talk to people, get back to work, and lead everyday life, whatever the new normal is.

I hope that someday, doctors can come up with a cure, all kinds of medicine that helps our immune system fight it, rather than chemo and radiation, which cause too many side effects that disturb everyday life. At least, I hope in 20 years, some accessible medicine will come up.

I will keep updating this topic when my pending radiation finishes and I start getting normal.

Otherwise, sometimes I feel it is just one of the phases we have to go through as authored in our life diaries that God has desired. Scientifically, the complex machine makeup has started developing wear and tear and perhaps with many bugs, as in software. Nevertheless, things do not get fixed in fast and furious ways. So, I am looking for a brighter tomorrow to lead a happy life with my one-year-old baby girl and not worry too much about the future. I am just a speck of this earth that is already in turmoil. The problem lies with God creating us so intelligent to analyze and write so much. Getting too philosophical, I am ending this here.

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