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My Experience With Cancer

Cancer is one of those things in life that no one ever wants to deal with and from my experience I find most usually think that it will never happen to me. The unfortunate reality is, anyone can get cancer, and we have to deal with it directly or indirect at some point in time in our life. I honestly wish this was not the case, and it could be a rare occurrence or one of those things we’ve cured and/or prevented from happening in the first place. I myself never gave much thought to cancer, and was one that didn’t think it would be something I would have to deal with personally. The idea of never dealing with cancer was going to be tested.

Warning

Do not proceed if the discussion of surgery, blood and post surgery photo may bother you.

The Beginning

Many years ago, around roughly when I was 31 years of age I started noticing a growth protruding on the back edge of my ear. Never thought much about it as just figured it was growth that could be easily removed. I went into to see my general practitioner (doctor) to see about having it removed. The doctor said that it appears fine, so he would try to freeze it off with what I recall was liquid nitrogen. As the doctor was applying the liquid nitrogen, I can tell you this didn’t have a wonderful feeling. There were lots of sharp spikes of pain, but it was over quite quickly, and I went on with my day. The misfortune in all this though was that none of the growth fell off, but rather more than doubled in size in a short period of time. The size of growth had now become roughly of a very large pea. I made another appointment to see my doctor. The conclusion of the appointment was that I would be refereed to a surgeon to have it removed by a professional so not botch up the appearance of my ear. The wait time for the surgery was I think more a year away. I was not happy about this, but what could I do about it. Life continued as normal except now that the growth was so large even though it doesn’t sound it, it started becoming quite a nuisance. You see I had a job at the time that I was in an office setting, but frequently had to go on to the manufacturing production floor which required safety glasses that had to go over top of my prescription eyeglasses. Every time I had to put them on it would bump or rub against the growth on my ear. At this stage it was quite sensitive, but not painful. I of course was able to just make it work, but still found the ordeal frustrating. One day sitting at my desk working away on something, the growth on my ear started to squirt blood behind me just as some happen to be walking by the office cubicle I was working at. Quickly I grabbed some facial tissue to put over the squirting blood. After that I can’t recall exactly what happened, but the co-worker did help me by talking about it. After this I was tired of waiting to get this dang growth removed. I made a phone call to my doctor and was fortunate enough to get a referral appointment to finally get something done about this.

Cancer Diagnosis

The day finally came, and it was my appointment time to see the surgeon at my local university hospital. I can’t recall all the details now, but basically I saw the doctor several times. One noticeable thing that happened was the resident doctors (doctors learning to be doctors) were overly interested in my medical situations for some reason. So it was explained to me that the reason for the rapid increase in the growth was due to the fact that the growth was cancerous. Yes I said cancerous. Now, I was to not worry as it was thought that being external that they should be able to remove the entirety of the growth off of my ear in surgery. Due to time passing I’ve also forgotten what exact cancer it was called. Then again, maybe I’ve forgotten this intentionally, who knows. Continuing with this wonderful news, I learned that this is a very unusual case for someone as young as I was. Apparently what I have was more common with someone in or around 80 years of age. I was a far cry away from my 80s that was for sure. As well to make this more unusual situation, I was quite healthy I was told, and I never smoked cigarettes or did any other form of drugs in my entire life, except for consuming alcohol. At the time I recall my wife making a joke about the situation saying that the cause of the cancer was all my endless hours sitting at those old CRT computer monitors giving off radiation. Never really know why or how I ended up with cancer, but to me that joke didn’t make sense since my ears don’t face the monitor (smile).

Facing Cancer

So I went on with my life but, I mentally struggled with the knowledge of having cancer. My emotions were up and down though I don’t recall outwardly expressing this or talking about it much to anyone. Reflecting back on this now, it was an emotional roller coaster going from sad, anger, disappointment and then acceptance. My disappointment was not being able to be involved in my children’s lives and watching them grow up. Worse I was very disappointed in myself because of the current situation my family was in, wife and 4 children. You see I made acceptance of having cancer to the point that I may die and leave everyone behind with the burden of not stabilizing the family financially and how they would survive without me. I had no life insurance as money was very tight due to various reasons. I was the rock that kept the family going and ran the majority of the household responsibilities. What I’m trying to say is at some points in time I was accepting that I would die even though this was completely not true from what I was told and that the cancer I had was external not internal. Far from the horrible stories one usually hear about dealing with cancer. It was trying times to me.

Surgery

I asked a lot of questions about my situation and how the surgery would go. I even went to the effort of studying medical material online on the subject, how the procedure was done and learned the medical terms around it all. My curiosity was quite high, and I wanted to be aware of everything that was going on. It’s just too bad that since I don’t work in the medical field I’ve lost pretty much all of what I taught myself. The one thing I do remember well is that due to the location of the growth there is very little skin and as such would require removing a small portion of the ear cartilage. This allows for the skin to be stitched back together, so it can heal properly.

The day of surgery finally came. I went into the surgery room and laid down on bed with my head titled slightly to the left. I have a few strong memories of the surgery. One was when I was given the local anesthetic, it was the strangest feeling I’ve ever had for local anesthetics. It felt like the needle just kept going in deeper and deeper. The other memory I have is when the surgeon started to remove some cartilage, it was quite the sound and loud considering I could hear everything little thing happening. Throughout the operation I talked quite a bit, asking many questions as the surgeon proceeded. At one time I remember the surgeon and the nurse helping both stopped what they were doing and asked how do I know all this medical information and terminology. My response I believe was that I studied using the Internet, and they still couldn’t believe it. Oddly that is a happy memory for me, not entirely sure why. Anyway, the surgery was a success and just now had to wait for everything to heal.

photo of ear after surgery from behind photo of ear after surgery from the side

Not too long after the surgery I received a call from the surgeon’s office stating that not all the cancer was removed. I would have to come in again for surgery to remove more skin to ensure all the cancer is indeed removed. This was not what I wanted to hear, but I went in again and got it done. I thought I was calm in this surgery, but I was told I was shaking a lot. My nerves I guess where getting to me and I suppose it is understandable considering the circumstances I’m dealing with.

Conclusion

It only took two surgeries, and it was a success in removing the cancer from my ear. Later small skin samples were taken from various parts of my body to ensure I didn’t have cancer else where. The results were in my favour, and I was cancer free. This was quite exciting news and happy to say that I’m still cancer free. Looking back on this now I definitely treated this situation far worse than it was. I didn’t have to do chemotherapy or any other extreme measure. So many people have to face far worse situations with cancer such as dealing with loosing hair, throwing up, no energy to anything productive. Heck even for those that don’t have financial coverage this can be quit devastating for someone in dealing with the medical costs involved. The best advice I can give in all this, is to just keep having hope and to keep pushing forward no matter how hard it can be because life is worth the challenge!

Do you wish to share your experience or provide feedback on my story? Please contact me.

I’m publishing this as part of 100 Days To Offload. You can join in yourself by visiting 100DaysToOffload.com.