Husband, Proud Father of Three, Commercial Airline Pilot, and Survivor of HPV-Attributed Tongue Cancer; Flower Mound, TX
Bill’s cancer journey started as a seemingly very healthy 50-year-old male, happily married and with three wonderful children. One night while in his kitchen enjoying some family time, he felt a solid lump on the right side of his neck.
Since Bill’s father died of pancreatic cancer, he immediately went to see his family physician the next day. Also, in his profession, a commercial airline pilot and former military fighter pilot, he tries not to leave too many things to chance. Of course, not unexpectedly, his physician felt it was probably nothing, maybe just an infection.
One area that Bill regrets is that from that initial response, he was slower than he should have been in getting further testing. His doctor recommended a sonogram, which he underwent. He also met with a surgeon, who initially was not overly concerned by the enlarged lymph node, but also recommended further testing.
Between appointment availability of the specialists and Bill’s busy work schedule, by the time he made it to an ENT it was around six weeks after his initial doctor’s visit. The ENT performed a scope of his throat and informed Bill that he suspected cancer on the right base of his tongue, and the cancer had probably spread to his lymph nodes.
“This was an incredible shock, having no symptoms and being very active,” explained Bill. “With the help of my family doctor, I immediately scheduled an appointment at an excellent teaching hospital in our area, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.”
The biopsy performed in September 2019 yielded the expected result, Stage II squamous cell carcinoma at the right base of the tongue which had spread mostly to his right lymph nodes and some to his left side. Bill’s treatment plan included simultaneous radiation therapy and chemotherapy which lasted about two months.
“For me, the experience was difficult but manageable, and I thank my wife and family for their incredible support and keeping me positive and motivated. Without them… who knows?” added Bill.
In his post-treatment scans and checkups, there have been no signs of disease. Bill is back to flying and feels very grateful for the excellent doctors who were charged with his care.
Someone once told Bill that three factors are needed in any cancer journey:
- Great medical care.
- Support from those who have been through what you are going through.
It is Bill’s hope to provide others with exactly that support that he feels is critical while going through cancer treatment.
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