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Thread: Dad just got diagnosed with some form of neck cancer

  1. #1
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    Dad just got diagnosed with some form of neck cancer

    I'm really new to this so, I hope this post fits this thread and such.

    I guess to start off I'll say that I'm 17, and my dad is 50. My dad, who is one of the most hard working and intelligent people I know, has been dealing with this lump on the upper left side of his neck. He first started taking medication for a week prescribed by the doctor to see if it would decrease in size; no luck. He went back and had some cells evaluated, and it came back as squamous cancer cells. I'm not too informed because my parents are trying not to make it hard on me, but it's a bit too late for that. He went yesterday for a CAT scan, and he's getting his results in a few hours.

    My issue, which of course isn't uncommon I assume, is I'm terrified. I've had many breakdowns in just this past week, and I'm constantly on edge. I've realized I've isolated myself a lot, but I try to be extra supportive around my dad. I'm just so fearful because I've never dealt with a family member being sick at all, and I don't know how to really deal with it. I've told my closest friend because it was killing me to keep it all in, but I'm not sure what to do now. I know I shouldn't jump to conclusions since we aren't aware of the stage or where exactly the cancer is coming from, but I'm still so anxious. (And extremely uninformed because of never dealing with a sick family member.)

    What I'm asking is, is it unhealthy to be so upset and anxious over this? And is there something I should/shouldn't do to support my dad through this? Thanks to anyone who responds.

  2. #2
    Administrator Top User lisa1962's Avatar
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    I am sorry to have to welcome you here given your Dadís diagnosis.

    First, as far as the actual diagnosis and staging, there still is further testing to be done but do understand how scared you are.
    You are only 17 and be so young, it is overwhelming.

    How you are feeling is normal but I do encourage you to speak with your parents. I know you hesitate to put more stress on them but they need to know how you are feeling. Perhaps in speaking with a school counselor? A Pastor (if you attend a church). Sometimes the facility in which your Dad is being medically seen, has members on staff to help not only the patient but family members as well.

    Good luck to you and of course your Dad.

    Lisa

  3. #3
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    It's unhealthy for you especially. Anxiety is very hard on a person and family. A cancer diagnosis is a real shock and very hard to accept. You are so young and I'm so sorry you have to deal with this,especially at your age.
    I am much older then you and when we first got my husband's diagnosis I did an anxiety nose dive and came close to a breakdown. But my husband badly needed me. So, I got control of it as best I could. As time goes on, and you understand his condition better, it will help a lot. The unknown can really be hard on a person and their family. Take deep breaths. Go to YouTube and listen to meditation tapes and calm music. I'm so sorry you are so upset but you have found a safe, kind place to be.
    As Lisa said, talk to your parents, a school counselor, your pastor. Your parents will want to know how you feel. But don't go research on Google. Once you know more about your Dad's condition, look on the American Cancer Society page. They even have chat there.
    Good luck to all of you and let us know how your Dad and you and your family are.
    67 year old husband diagnosed with Periphial T Cell Lymphoma Feb. 2015
    5 rounds of CHOPE chemo put him into remission for 2 years....
    June 2017 Relapse....radiation planned
    Develops ITP, Low platelets....Hospitalized 3 days to be given Gamma Gloublin....discharged....gave prednisone but forgot to give scripts for that and Klonopin....results in steroid psychosis from Prednisone.....second time this has happened. Had one instance of it during previous chemo.
    ITP recurs....4,000 platelets
    Al had spleen removed Sept. 25. It went well. Platelets up to 100,000but since he was given platelets the day before and during surgery the dr. wants to give it a few more days to see if platelets keep rising. Still in hospital. Good attitude. Grateful to God!
    Also caregiver to our 40 year old son who had a benign ependymoma tumor removed when he was 14 years old. 6 brain surgeries.
    Thank you God for all your blessings! 🙏❤️🙏

  4. #4
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    Hello Kara,

    As a senior moderator says, there are rules to follow!

    Rule 1: Don't Panic!
    Rule 2: Don't forget Rule 1.!!!

    It is USUAL to be upset and have melt-downs. I think more for daughters than for sons, who think that they have to be stoic.
    You are just being a normal loving daughter and we compliment you for it.

    A cancer diagnosis is always difficult for both the patient and his/her love ones.
    BUT, in today’s world, there are many treatments available to knock down the beast!

    Your father has started the treatment process already and his doctors will select the most effective protocol tailored just for him. I won’t kid you, it is a difficulty journey for all involved, and you will have to be mutually supportive through it all. I hope that your father has a lot of caregivers by his side. It is quite apparent that you are doing your best.

    Please don’t let Dr. Google scare you! (It can be depressing.)
    Stick with us (we are the real deal here), vent when you need to, cry when you need to, and reach out for a holding hand when you need one. Ask your father's doctor's nurse to identify local family member support groups.

    Enjoy every day with your Dad and make good memories along the way.

    Warmest regards to you and your father,
    zim (icaps3)

  5. #5
    Senior User IndyLou's Avatar
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    Hi, Kara-

    I'm terribly sorry that you're having to face this--you've likely seen your parents in your entire life as invincible, unshakable, and pillars of strength for you--whether you acknowledged that or not. Now, you only know that your father has a form of cancer, and your entire family has to deal with it. There are lots of unknowns, and at your age, you're still busy trying to figure our where your life is headed. You're in high school, maybe thinking about college right around the corner...and now this.

    First, let me tell you that from the sound of things, your dad may have the very same cancer that I had. Certainly the squamous cell carcinoma part. This is becoming a very common form of cancer for men our age, that is, men in their 40s and 50s. Assuming your dad is not a heavy smoker or drinker, it's quite possible that your father's cancer was caused by the HPV virus. It's also possible that he could've acquired this virus many years ago. It may sound like a delicate subject, but you might ask about your father's pathology report, assuming they performed a biopsy. That report should be able to tell you exactly what caused the cancer.

    Second, this type of cancer is relatively easy to treat, and the prognosis is generally very good. My cancer was diagnosed and treated over four years ago, and I've been cancer-free for most of that time. Do you know if your father has a treatment plan? Depending on the size and location, they could perform surgery, administer radiation, chemotherapy, or even newer, targeted medicines that work wonders against cancer of this type. I don't want to get your hopes up and say it'll be a breeze, especially if your father has to undergo radiation or traditional chemotherapy. Those treatments can still have some harsh side effects, but it's generally more short-term.

    Your anxiety is understandable and very normal. It's a good thing that you've approached this forum, and are expressing your feelings. It's important that you have a voice in this...so often, parents try to hide scary medical information from their children, but you're certainly old enough to know what's going on. A little anxiety is also normal because you are facing unknowns--tests, scans, appointments, etc. You're probably seeing this second-hand, but I'm a firm believer in the more that you know, the more empowered your feelings will be.

    I think the worst thing you could do is to NOT be supportive of your father out of fear. It's all new to him as well. Ask him how he's taking things, ask him about his visits, what he thinks, what he fears. Accompany him to his treatments when you can, sit with him, ask him about his day, and tell him about yours. Go at a pace that's comfortable for you both. As a cancer patient, sometimes people--even your friends--they look at you and treat you as if you're on your deathbed. You dad is definitely NOT on his deathbed!

    Please keep us informed of your dad's progress, and continue to ask any questions about things you might not understand. Be careful about relying only on Google for your information. I wish you and your dad the best!
    Age 52 Male
    early Feb, 2013 - Noticed almond-sized lump in shaving area, right side of neck. No other "classic" cancer symptoms
    late Feb, 2013 - Visited PCP for check-up, PCP advised as lymphoma. Did blood work, orders for CT-scan, referred to ENT
    3/7/13 - CT-scan inconclusive, endoscopy negative
    3/9/13 - FNA of neck mass
    3/14/13 - Received dx of squamous-cell carcinoma, unknown primary
    3/25/13 - CT-PET scan reveals no other active tumors
    3/26/13 - work/up for IMRT
    4/1/13 - W1, D1 of weekly cetuximab
    4/8/13 - W1, D1 of IMRT
    5/20/13 - complete 8 week regimen of weekly cetuximab
    5/24/13 - Complete 35-day regimen of daily IMRT
    mid-July 2013 - CT-PET scan reveals no active tumors, but shows necrotic tissue at site of original tumor
    early Sept 2013 - partial neck dissection to remove necrotic tissue. Assay shows no cancer present.
    Spring 2014 - No signs of cancer
    Spring 2015 - NED
    Spring 2016 - NED
    Spring 2017 - NED

  6. #6
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    Thank you to everyone for your replies. It's so wonderful to know I have people even online that I can reach out to. I feel a bit more informed and calmer now that I've come on here. We received my father's information; it's an oral cancer caused by HPV. He'll be undergoing two surgeries as well as radiation therapy. The doctor said he should be fine afterwards, but he may appear different after all the therapy. We're all hoping for the best. Thank you to everyone again for the replies, it eased my mind! We are also looking into counseling within my school if I would need it.

  7. #7
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    (I would reply to everyone separately but, I'm still new to this and am trying to figure that out. )

  8. #8
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    You sound like you feel a bit better. No need to respond to each of us separately as we can all see your posts. There is the private message feature if you want to talk to anyone in private
    Glad you feel a bit calmer. ☺️
    67 year old husband diagnosed with Periphial T Cell Lymphoma Feb. 2015
    5 rounds of CHOPE chemo put him into remission for 2 years....
    June 2017 Relapse....radiation planned
    Develops ITP, Low platelets....Hospitalized 3 days to be given Gamma Gloublin....discharged....gave prednisone but forgot to give scripts for that and Klonopin....results in steroid psychosis from Prednisone.....second time this has happened. Had one instance of it during previous chemo.
    ITP recurs....4,000 platelets
    Al had spleen removed Sept. 25. It went well. Platelets up to 100,000but since he was given platelets the day before and during surgery the dr. wants to give it a few more days to see if platelets keep rising. Still in hospital. Good attitude. Grateful to God!
    Also caregiver to our 40 year old son who had a benign ependymoma tumor removed when he was 14 years old. 6 brain surgeries.
    Thank you God for all your blessings! 🙏❤️🙏

  9. #9
    Senior User IndyLou's Avatar
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    Indiana
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    This is actually quite a relief to hear the full diagnosis, Kara. As I said, this type of cancer is getting to be common in men your father's age. HPV+ squamous cell carcinoma is actually a good sign, because this cancer is very responsive to treatment, and the goal of treatment is to cure the cancer completely. I'm glad you took the initiative to write to this forum and ask questions, because it sounds like you're feeling much better than you did in your first post.

    As your father continues with his treatments, please feel free to continue with any questions or feelings you might have.

    All the best--
    Age 52 Male
    early Feb, 2013 - Noticed almond-sized lump in shaving area, right side of neck. No other "classic" cancer symptoms
    late Feb, 2013 - Visited PCP for check-up, PCP advised as lymphoma. Did blood work, orders for CT-scan, referred to ENT
    3/7/13 - CT-scan inconclusive, endoscopy negative
    3/9/13 - FNA of neck mass
    3/14/13 - Received dx of squamous-cell carcinoma, unknown primary
    3/25/13 - CT-PET scan reveals no other active tumors
    3/26/13 - work/up for IMRT
    4/1/13 - W1, D1 of weekly cetuximab
    4/8/13 - W1, D1 of IMRT
    5/20/13 - complete 8 week regimen of weekly cetuximab
    5/24/13 - Complete 35-day regimen of daily IMRT
    mid-July 2013 - CT-PET scan reveals no active tumors, but shows necrotic tissue at site of original tumor
    early Sept 2013 - partial neck dissection to remove necrotic tissue. Assay shows no cancer present.
    Spring 2014 - No signs of cancer
    Spring 2015 - NED
    Spring 2016 - NED
    Spring 2017 - NED

  10. #10
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    Hi Kara,

    ‘Glad to hear that your father’s cancer is very treatable.

    After reading your original post several times, I have a couple of comments.

    Even on a difficult subject, your post was very articulate, and quite well written. It speaks to a high level of maturity and intelligence. It seems that you should be addressed as a ‘Young Adult’ here after. This will serve you well during your father’s treatment.

    (Note: During a long US Navy career, I met an awful lot of 17 year old ‘men’ and an equal number of 40 year old ‘boys’. So Adulthood isn't always about age.)

    So don’t let your age fool you, you’ve obviously got what it takes.

    I’m sure that there are many, many young daughters/sons that could benefit from your experiences and feelings during the coming days/months, so may I suggest that you post here quite often to share with them, and us old folks, your ups and downs.

    Another suggestion, doctors will quickly throw drugs at you to “calm you down”. Avoid them if you can, because they will adversely effect your school work and fog up your thinking.

    Finally, LIsa often recommends keeping a notebook with all your questions , and hopefully answers. In your case I suggest TWO notebooks, one for you questions about your father's treatment, and a second one, "How does this all effect me (you)". Your father's illness will effect your life! Write down all those questions and seek answers for them all. Have you done SATs, college choice, Home or away, and all those little things that can drive you crazy.
    This isn't selfish, it's using good sense to level out your life.

    Regards to you and yours,
    zim

 

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