Hello Reddit!

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!

My Proof: https://i.imgur.com/IVfm1I0h.jpg Album: https://imgur.com/a/BCRG7

Comments: 64 • Responses: 22  • Date: 

whitewallsuprise33 karma

What movies did you watch in the hospital ?

Who is the best batman in your opinion ?

MyersParsec32 karma

No movies in the hospital for me. I was extraordinarily uncomfortable during the first part of my hospital stay and didn't do much other than sleep. I was hospitalized for 5 days. The last few days, I spent a lot of time watching NBA games and reading /r/NBA.

I am a Christian Bale Batman fan for sure. The Dark Knight is definitely the best Batman film, maybe the best superhero film. I also have watched Batman Begins maybe more times than any other movie. Though I do appreciate the goofy 90's films. Robin's plastic lips scene never ceases crack me up. Of those, Tim Burton's is the best of them IMO. Best Batman book is Killing Joke or Court of Owls - toss up.

whitewallsuprise3 karma

I had a whole wack load of movies I put on my phone every-time I had to go do a 2 week stay. Paying 8 dollars a day for shitty tv adds up every-time. I got wise to that racket. Hospitals are just money suckers while you're trying to heal.

MyersParsec9 karma

truth - though the media entertainment system at the hospital I stayed at had this really awesome free feature that had a library of like peaceful nature-scapes with soothing sounds, like rainfall or a babbling stream. I found this surprisingly nice and used it a lot.

SchwarzerReiter2 karma

Read Grant Morrison’s run. I found the court of owls trite and at points pretentious when it had no right to be. Anyway, grant Morrison! Get on that!

MyersParsec2 karma

Will do! I have been wanting a good comic to read, it has been a minute since I picked up Batman. Thanks for the recommendation!

SchwarzerReiter2 karma

Keep in mind that Morrison is a bit “out there” and doesn’t write your typical batman stories. He also likes to do these long sagas that pay tribute to older stories. For him everything is canon and Batman is an extraordinary person who went through various phases in his life. Even the craziness of the old comics is canon for Morrison.

PS: his Batman and Robin run (part of the bigger Batman run) is the funnest read ever! You’re in for a treat.

PS2: the same applies for his all star Superman. It’s a massive tribute to Superman and examination of his themes before he dies. Don’t forget to read the annotations about the secret of Leo Quintum. All star Superman is probably the best comic book you’ll ever read.

MyersParsec1 karma

Morrison sounds refreshing, I can appreciate a step away from the norm! I look forward to reading for myself :D

I have a hard time with Supes due to the nature of his character. I really enjoyed American Alien, and I had not really enjoyed any Superman stories previously. So maybe I'll give him a chance again.

Deadsteel5218 karma

This might be a really silly question, but how do you make sure your eye doesn’t dry out on the side of your face that is paralyzed? Do you use eye drops or is there some other way?

MyersParsec17 karma

Great question, and you hit the nail on the head. Lots of eye drops, occasionally manually blinking the eye, just using the back of my finger to gently push up my lower lid. At night I use a eye gel, which is just eye drops with mineral oil to make them slightly viscous, and then I patch the eye before going to sleep.

I'm thinking about getting a patch to wear during the day to protect the eye from wind, which has been bothersome. But I haven't really been able to find a patch that I could live with wearing everyday. Most I've seen are either for sleep, really cumbersome, or are costume pieces.

SUPERBirdplane14 karma

How dependant are you for help with basic daily activities (i.e eating, showering, bathroom)?

Do you get made fun off ever?

What’s your opinion on cancer jokes?

MyersParsec31 karma

I am completely independent and care for myself. I have no trouble showering or using the bathroom. Eating has been difficult. That has been maybe the hardest adjustment. I eat like an old man haha, I have to take small bites and its very hard to move food from one side of my mouth to the other. I don't need help, but it has certainly taken some getting used to. Thankfully, it has been getting easier by the day.

No getting made fun of yet. A few prying questions. "What happened to your face?" etc. I usually say something like "gang fight," or " you should see the other guy." As far as cancer jokes go, I truly do not mind. I'm not sure anyone could try and make fun of my situation in a way that would really hurt me meaningfully. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

rapbattlechamp12 karma

Consider seeing a speech-language pathologist for the eating component! I’m an SLP who mostly treats swallowing disorders and have used electrical stimulation to improve facial paralysis impacting patients’ ability to eat.

MyersParsec6 karma

Very interesting! Thanks for the info - I'll look into it!

whitewallsuprise3 karma

hahahahahahah. holy shit dude. That's what I say when people pry and ask stupid questions they have no business asking. " gang fight" scenario or "knife fight" . Haven't used the ol' saved a kitten from a tree and cat scratched me" .... but the time will come. "it was a big cat" i'll say....

MyersParsec2 karma

I may use that one in the future haha. Cheers mate!

000junk10 karma

If today, you could time travel to any destination, where would you go? 🙂

MyersParsec18 karma

I'm definitely going far-far future, like 3018, with the hopes of inter-galactic space travel. One ticket for the next off-world shuttle please and thank you!

000junk7 karma

Awesome! Make that two tickets... I think I’ll join you 😎 Thanks for answering!

MyersParsec9 karma

Of course! Happy New Year! Maybe in our lifetime, if we're lucky, we could end up sitting side by side on an off-world shuttle. Doubt it, but a boy can dream.

000junk4 karma

Speaking of dreaming...

coryrenton9 karma

Are there any electrical stimulus devices you can use to activate the paralyzed sections?

MyersParsec17 karma

If there are, I have not been made aware. What I have been told, is trying to activate paralyzed muscles too aggressively can be detrimental to recovery. I've been told to basically relax and wait for things to start turning back on on their own.

shellofnuts7 karma

You mentioned that you were getting used to eating again, does the loss of sensation also extend to the inside of the right side of your mouth?
And if so do you end up biting the inside of your cheek?
And how is your tongue effected?
Sorry for the stranger side of questions, I'm just really curious. I hope your documentation goes well and I wish you all the best tackling this!

MyersParsec9 karma

It does somewhat, not completely. I have some mild temperature and pain sensation in the right side interior of my mouth, it has probably diminished to some degree since before surgery. I have had a bit of trouble biting my cheek actually, but it hasn't been a huge bother. My tongue works just fine as far as I can tell. I am actually genetically tongue tied so I have a very wide short tongue, which has come in handy for pushing food around in my mouth. No need to apologize! I posted here to answer questions! :D Thank you for the encouragement, and Happy New Year!

shellofnuts3 karma

Happy New Year to you too!
Don't know if it's just me but your proof link is linking to a picture of a BMW. Might just want to double-check it

MyersParsec2 karma

Thanks for the heads up - it seems to link me correctly? Can a mod confirm that it's a working link? /u/IAmAMods

1_2_3_GO7 karma

Just so you know, your proof link goes to a brown BMW 1-Series picture.

I used to work at the Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary and saw lots of these types of surgery and there are lots of resources/ways for you to improve! Can I ask: where are you located in the US (state or region is fine), and what steps do you have to take toward recovery?

MyersParsec4 karma

I hope that works - I changed the link to go just to the verification photo, not sure why the album link isn't working.

I am in North Carolina! I still have a bit of healing to do as far as the actual surgical site goes. My surgeon grafted some fat from my abdomen to fill in the site where the tumor was removed. That fat absorbs fluid and swelled up (this was expected). There is still some residual swelling, though it has improved a lot and continues to improve. There is also subsequently a fair bit of drainage to deal with. The surgical site should be healed completely within the next 2-3 weeks hopefully, and any residual swelling should go away in maybe a months time.

As far as the paralysis goes, it should be close to a full year before I see noted improvement. Not sure there is much I can actively do to change that.

As far as the cancer goes, as of now, I haven't been recommended further treatment, but that may change at my physician's discretion.

panamared786 karma

I just beat stage 4 melanoma. Would love to chat with you?

MyersParsec6 karma

Congratulations! That is remarkable. I can't imagine what that must have been like, and I hope you remain healthy and happy in 2018 and for many long years to come. I am always happy to talk - shoot me a pm anytime!

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maimou14 karma

Hi! Cancer nurse here. Has chemo been suggested? I'm not at work so I don't have access to the online medical resources, but I sure will be looking this one up! Glad your outlook is bright.

MyersParsec12 karma

No further treatment has been recommended outside of a potential lower eyelid raise to assist with my right eye. My case is being presented to a board of experts to determine if any further cancer treatment is required but - as far as I know - that treatment would likely be radiation before chemo. Thank you for the kind words, and thank you for what you do, I had a rough hospital stay for the first few nights after recovery and I had an incredible group of nurses helping me. Ya'll are champs.

shoaibnasiri5 karma

What is your view on universal healthcare?

MyersParsec5 karma

If implemented effectively, I approve whole-heartedly. However, I am unsure, really, not-knowledgeable, on how a realistic universal healthcare program gets implemented within the existing healthcare system in the United States.

Show me a public option that is affordable and provides meaningful coverage to help the uninsured - and then we can both watch it never happen because legislature will fight about it indefinitely.

oodian5 karma

How do you tell the difference between a lymph node in your neck and a possible tumour? You mention a "hard lump" - how do you tell if it is hard or normal?

MyersParsec5 karma

My advice to you is to compare either side of your neck to the other. Everyone is different, but both sides should be roughly symmetrical. If there is lump or raised area on one side but not on the other I would take note. You shouldn't really be able to FEEL your lymph nodes normally, so if a lump persists for an extended time and seems firm to the touch I would consult your physician.

CruelUltimatum4 karma

Which do you prefer and why?

Peanut Butter or Hazelnut Spreads?

MyersParsec9 karma

Peanut butter wins in a tight race. Peanut butter has a much better value : deliciousness ratio. Peanut butter is more versatile. While Hazelnut spreads are a treat and are extremely tasty, they arn't enough better than peanut butter to make me want to splurge at their price point. I also really dig a PBnJ with crunchy cheetos. Good question, it was a tough one.

Also, shout outs to apple butter.

Edit: You won the username lottery. Nothing like tapping UUBBBRR.

JustADumbB1onde3 karma

I am sorry if this is a stupid question, but I will ask, anyway.

Do you, personally belive (not what doctors say) that your illness was significantly triggered via the environment, or genetics? For example, my grandfather had a rare form of leukemia. He handled chemicals most of his life. And there was no cancer in his family, at all. What are your personal thoughts on how this illness progressed?

My prayers have been sent for you. I hope that's alright. Good thoughts, and blessings for the coming new year. ❤

MyersParsec3 karma

That is most certainly not a stupid question.

In my case, it is much more likely genetic than a product of my environment. One of my parents has had cancer, my cousin has had cancer, my grandmother died of cancer. I don't smoke. I havn't worked any jobs, for any meaningful length of time, that would have exposed me to any sort of toxic substance. But my family history does have multiple cancer diagnosis so a genetic predisposition would be more likely. Whether it was a faulty gene or some random biological glitch - I don't spend too much time worrying about it. Worrying doesn't do me any good =] It's a challenge to overcome sure, frustrating sure, but I am so terribly lucky, its hard to not feel relieved and grateful.

I appreciate your thoughts and prayers. I wish you a very happy 2018.

myroseyredskin2 karma

Sorry if someone asked this already, but how did this affect your speech? Do you sound like Sylvester Stallone now?

MyersParsec4 karma

It has effected my speech a bit haha. Plosives like the p and b sound are interesting because they require you to push air out of your mouth a bit when you speak. The right side of my mouth can't get out of it's own way so air gets caught and I kinda puff up a bit and slur those sounds. More Churchill than Stalone. For the most part I speak normally though, maybe in shorter slower thoughts than before.