Cancer: The Grinch that Stole Christmas

Of the +30 posts on this patient blog, this has been one of the hardest to write.

Lung metsIn the prior entry, I referenced that my next PET scan was scheduled for early February 2017. However, my radiation oncologist wanted to keep the PET scans consistent at six month intervals that resulted in moving the PET scan up to December 14 (last Wednesday). My prior PET scan was in June 2016.

Unfortunately, the latest PET scan did not contain good news. Multiple new spots consistent with malignancy showed up that were not visible six months ago. This includes activity in lung nodules, subcarinal/left hilar lymph nodes (near the trachea), and mild activity around the tonsils and in the region of the oral cavity. The results were confirmed by a subsequent CT scan this past Saturday.

In the world of medicine, however, cancer doesn’t exist until the abnormal cells are viewed under a microscope. Accordingly, I will soon need to have a biopsy taken from one or more of the suspicious areas highlighted on the PET scan. However, I don’t need to wait for that procedure and the subsequent results to know the outcome.

For head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which was my initial diagnosis, pulmonary metastases are the most frequent and account for 66% of distant metastases¹. This information, combined with the imaging results, leaves very little chance that the biopsy results will be benign.

Michael D. Becker Awaiting PET Imaging

Michael D. Becker Awaiting PET Imaging on Dec 14 at MSKCC in NYC

The consultation for the biopsy procedure has been scheduled for late this week and the actual biopsy procedure still needs to be scheduled. If the biopsy confirms that cancer has indeed spread to my lungs, the next step will be a meeting with my oncologist to discuss treatment options, which will likely include recent advances, such as biologic agents and immunotherapies (e.g., checkpoint inhibitors).

¹ ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec. 2001 Jul-Aug;63(4):202-7.
Incidence and sites of distant metastases from head and neck cancer.


9 thoughts on “Cancer: The Grinch that Stole Christmas

  1. I am so sorry to hear this news, Michael. You, Lorie and the girls are in my thoughts and prayers. If there’s anything at all that you need we’re right around the corner. Take care.

  2. I’ve thought of you so much recently, and I kept thinking you were leaving 2016 behind on such a high note. That brought me so much happiness. Tonight, however, I’m back to yelling NO at my computer screen. Thoughts, prayers, and good vibes…you’re off to run a race no one wants you to run again. As always, we’re all with you.

  3. This is one of the hardest of your posts to read. Like Carly, I thought only good things could possibly be ahead for you. WTF! I want to cling to the comment someone made: it’s just another bump in the road. I’m also hoping you are wrong about the biopsy results. Sending you so much positivity right now and in the days ahead.

  4. Michael-
    I am so sorry to hear that you received such sad news. May you find the strength to keep fighting this battle with the support of all your friends and family. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Brandy and I were very close friends throughout high school.

  5. Dear Michael:
    I am so very sorry for this very distressing news. I am rooting for you and wholeheartedly believe that if anyone can turn the tables, it is you. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your Family.
    Hugs to you my Friend,
    Debbie Hart

  6. Dear Micheal,
    I’m sending you prayers and strength. I too am hoping the biopsy results are negative. Know that I believe in miracles!
    Kim Bryant

  7. Sometimes it really stinks to know so much, and yet know so little – yet miracles happen all the time. Good Luck!

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