Monday, September 29, 2008


Hi all!

While this blog is new, I am not new to blogging. But after reviewing my latest blog entries on my main blog page, it has become clear to me that I would be better off confining my posts about my illness to one specific site in the hope that other cancer patients will find my observations and experiences useful.

Basically, I have been having issues with my health for several years. In spite of numerous visits to a multitude of doctors, it was only last week that I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the nasal septum. This is nobody's fault - nothing showed up until now. Here is a brief history:

In May of 2005, I noticed a little blood in my "morning sputum" - if you have allergies, you know that it is not uncommon to spit up mucous first thing in the morning. I went to the doctor where I was tested for problems with my lungs - not a stretch since I have had asthma all of my life. Nothing showed but as a precaution, I was given antibiotics and told to call back if the problem didn't clear up. Well, it didn't clear up but the problem was so small and intermittent that I didn't call back. A year later, it occurred to me that perhaps this blood was in my post nasal drip so I visited an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) who said he saw a small lesion high in my nose but "I don't think it's cancer." He cauterized the area and prescribed Flonase. The problem persisted so I went back to the doctor as a follow up. He said there was nothing new and to give the medication time to work. Yadayadayada.

A year later, I went to see a different ENT who told me that she saw nothing there. So I let it go. Meanwhile, the occasional bloody sputum had turned into occasional nosebleeds. I consulted a 3rd ENT (in the same practice as the 2nd) who told me there was definitely something in my nose but again, he did not think it was cancer. He did suggest I not use Flonase because it is too drying for the nasal passages, so he prescribed an ointment call Muciprocin (antibiotic) and told me not to use NSAIDs or aspirin, only Tylenol, if I had pain, or to call for a prescription. The nosebleeds increased and became so bad that I wondered if I was single-handedly supporting the Kleenex company. I returned to the 3rd ENT and he said the problem was worse and suggested a biopsy. That was earlier this year - April, I think. I was to call and set up an appointment to do this.

Before I could schedule the biopsy, I became ill with what turned out to be pancreatitis. I was hospitalized twice for that - each stay a lovely week at Marin General Hospital - and following the 2nd stay, my gallbladder was removed. It may be noted here that only once or twice during my hospital stays did I experience nosebleeds and as they go, they were pretty minor.

When I was sufficiently recovered from the surgery and the illness, I scheduled a biopsy. The news came back in one working day: cancer. That was one week ago today. A PET scan was ordered and performed and I am now awaiting the results of that test to see if the disease is contained and where exactly in my nose it is located.