I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer with sub-1,000 recorded cases since 2010. I am adjusting to life with 50% facial paralysis. AMA!
One of my new year's resolutions for 2018 is documenting the progression of my expected recovery from cancer and severe facial palsy, book ended with some AMAs. I want to preface this story by saying, I am incredibly fortunate, with extraordinary doctors and excellent care - as well as my dad's really incredible healthcare coverage. I'm in the states, and I'm still on my parent's plan, as I am 25, and my current employer's plan is basically unacceptable. If this had happened in 2018, I would be in astronomical debt.
For a bit of backstory - I noticed a lump on the right side of my face behind my ear after a bad sinus infection in July 2017. After several doctors and a negative mumps test, I disregarded it (never do this). My spectacular oral surgeon, who removed my wisdom teeth in September 2017, noticed it during consultation and indicated that if the lump was still present at my post-op consultation that he would be recommending an MRI. Post-op consultation comes and the lump is still there. An MRI indicated a tumor, what he described as benign. I was connected with another truly brilliant surgeon, who immediately recommended the tumor's removal. I woke up after surgery several months later with a surgeon telling me I had cancer and that it had attacked a facial nerve near my parotid salivary gland. My surgeon, seeing that the tumor had overtaken the nerve, extended the surgery and conducted an emergency nerve graft, removing the nerve enclosed by the tumor and replacing it with a less critical nerve from my neck. The result is almost complete loss of sensation and movement in the right side of my face for now, but a 8-12 month prognosis on some meaningful improvement.
The cancer that I was later diagnosed with was an "MASC," or Mammary Analog Secretory Carcinoma. A tumor that behaves much like tumors associated with breast cancer but they have been recorded in a majority of male patients - typically somewhere between the upper pallet, lips, sinuses, and salivary glands. My surgeon was able to successfully remove all the cancerous material that we are aware of, and many of the surrounding lymph nodes. The outlook is good for this type of cancer, with a very low recurrence rate.
It has been one month since surgery and I am still adjusting to life without the ability to close my right eye, move the right side of my mouth, feel my ear, or any sensation past the right side of my nose. It's been tough, but the support of my family and friends has been overwhelming and I am truly grateful.
I now have the opportunity to rock maybe the most authentic and accurate 90's comic book Harvey "Two-Face" Dent cosplay. I just need a talented make-up artist, a white suit and a jaguar print suit. I'll be getting on that.
Please feel free to ask me anything, I'll do my best to answer!
Edit: If you feel a hard lump. GET IT CHECKED ASAP. "Better safe than sorry," has never applied more.
Edit 2: I'll be here answering questions until approximately 6:00pm EST. Thank you guys!
Edit 3: I'm hopping off for the day! Thank you guys for your kind words, encouragement and interesting questions, it has been fun! Happy New Years!