My cancer story began back in April 2014 while taking a financial exam. I placed my hand on my neck to ponder a question, and felt a bump. I immediately called my Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) after passing the exam, and he told me that because I did not smoke nor drink that I could see him over the next few weeks. As a guy who always goes to the doctor, I saw him in his office 3 business days later. He placed me on ten days of antibiotics and steroids, and scheduled me for a needle biopsy and CT Scan, in case the bump didn’t go away. After returning from a quick vacation to the Florida Keys & a business trip to DC, I had the needle biopsy and CT scan. Three days later, without any symptoms except the bump on my neck, I received the scary diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma of the right tonsil, ultimately being diagnosed as stage 4 HPV related tonsil cancer. My doctors shared that they believe I got the HPV virus in college over 25 years ago.
I chose the name SupermanHPV as I knew it would draw attention to the diagnosis, and help me spread the word about HPV related oral cancer. I wanted people to understand that 3 out of 4 adults by the time they’re 30 have HPV, 62% of freshman in college. Before getting diagnosed, I never even heard of HPV related oral cancer.
Superman was an easy choice, as my friends called me Superman during chemo and radiation, and gave me Superman t-shirts and figures, stating that I was Superman tough.
As great as life is today, 2014 was extremely scary. I ended up having a radical tonsillectomy, neck dissection (42 lymph nodes removed from my neck), followed by seven weeks of chemo, radiation and a feeding tube. Life was brutal, and I taught myself to separate my mind from my body. My will to live and my ability to compartmentalize all that was happening enabled me to remain strong and positive for not only me, but as well my wife, kids, extended family and friends.
Remember, I am not a doctor. I have shared my story based on my experience and to encourage others to get timely HPV vaccines. Learn more about me and my struggles to survive cancer at https://supermanhpv.com/
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