After resigning from my job, at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid due to health reasons, I was named, "Woman of the Year for 2010-2011 for the Industry of Medicare" by the National Association of Professional Women. However despite this honor, today I am more excited to be classified as a Cancer Survivor!
In May 2010 I received a biopsy report from the Mayo Clinic that I had a rare tumor in my right nasal passage and possibly my sinus cavities, known as a Paranasal Sinus Cavity Sarcoma. As all Sarcomas are cancerous I tried to mentally absorb such a life threatening diagnosis, millions of questions were popping into my mind. Do I go through more surgery? What about possible radiation and chemo? Do I want to go through that? Do I refuse treatment and just go out in the world and LIVE? I was told if I chose the latter option, the cancer would quickly grow into my brain and right eye resulting in blindness and death. My first reaction was denial and shock. Hours of crying, "Why me?" I had lost my first child, full-term, at birth many years ago and felt I had already paid my debt to society. To cope I immediately began reaching out to family, friends, and God.
I was referred to Dr.Terance T. Tsue, a doctor in the Department of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He had already ordered lab tests, a PET scan and a CT scan prior to my consultation and had access, via computer, to the results of these numerous tests. After he examined my nasal passages, neck and throat thoroughly he scheduled appointments for me with a neurosurgeon and an eye surgeon. I guess I was still in shock, as I did not ask questions, but it wasn't necessary as Dr. Tsue took the care to explain each of his decisions.
As Dr. Tsue explained, he wanted to do this surgery before he was to leave for vacation as the window of opportunity for success would be closed if we waited - there was only a two month window and a month of that had already passed. He then told me that is why he wanted me to see a neurosurgeon and eye surgeon right away, as this tumor may be into my brain or even growing into the right eye behind the orbital lining. I was amazed; he was on top of everything. Such quick thinking and planning! Even my family wanted me to continue my treatment at KU because they were so impressed by Dr. Tsue's research into my case and treatment plan.
My surgery lasted over seven hours, stealing an entire day, but it was worth it as Dr. Tsue was able to remove 98% of the tumor. The rest was growing into the skull bone, for which he prescribed radiation, to arrest the portion in the bone. Dr. Tsue personally met with Dr. F. Wang, chief oncologist, to map the treatment area on my nose and between the eyebrows to only use beams of intensity that my retina and Optic nerve could tolerate.
I have nothing but praise for Dr. Tsue's skills and planning of cancer treatment. He was there supporting and cheering me all the way through. As well, Dr. Wang was there for a visit every week to check on my progress and keep himself updated on any problems I may be having. Now 6 months later, I am working part-time and slowly getting back into life's swing of things. And, best of all, I can say, "I am a Cancer Survivor! Praise God!"