Cancer, Favorite Posts, On My Mind

surgery & cancer details.

I have to begin this post by saying a huge, giant, colossal THANK YOU.  It hasn’t even been quite a week and we have been so overwhelmed with charity.  I think I am more in shock about how giving and kind all of you are than Nate’s cancer!  I know that this is a time in our lives to receive, BUT, if I can ever do anything for you guys PLEASE don’t hesitate to ask!  I feel like I have a life left of service just to repay this past week of charity we have received.

This post is just a list of the details…no tissues needed 😉

Here’s the latest…

This past week was pretty much a full-time job of doctor appointments.  Kinda long and stressful but we finally know exactly what is going on with his cancer, surgery, and treatments…

The Cancer:

I realized I haven’t ever said exactly what kind of cancer Nate has.  He has a local stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma.  I never knew this, but they do the staging of cancers in 2 different ways; how much it has spread throughout the body and how bad it is locally.  Fortunately, they can’t detect the cancer anywhere else in his body (hurray!) Unfortunately, it is stage 4 locally, meaning it is at a very high risk of spreading and so they have to be very aggressive in surgery.  It isn’t a super rare cancer to develop, but it is extremely rare for someone to develop it in their sinus – especially if they are young and don’t smoke.  Every doctor we have talked to is really surprised that Nate has this cancer.  We, obviously, had to ask the question of ‘why.’  The only response the doc could give us is “bad luck.”

The Surgery:

Surgery is scheduled November 20th.  There is a slight chance that we will bump it up to the 5th, but on the 20th, the surgeons we feel most confident in will be able to perform it.  Because the cancer is so far progressed locally, they have to remove a lot of the left side of Nate’s face.  This includes all the muscles and bones that make up his cheek, his upper jaw, all of his molars, the roof of his mouth, and their is a 90% chance they have to take out his left eye with all of its surrounding muscles and skin.  They do all of the reconstruction (minus the eye and teeth) at the same time they take everything out.  They are using 2/3rds of his fibula (lower, outer bone of the leg) and all of it’s surrounding skin, muscles, veins and arteries to reconstruct everything.  It is amazing what they can do these days. They are essentially plugging the arteries and veins from his leg into his neck and running them back up through his cheek, using his leg muscles for the new face muscles, and his fibula is going to become his cheek bones.  Obviously, this surgery is super intense…he is going to be in surgery for around 14 hours!  After surgery he will have a minimum 7 day hospital stay and then 3 more weeks recovery after that.  He probably won’t be able to walk for awhile and definitely won’t be able to do normal activities for around 6 months.  As far as the teeth are concerned, he won’t be able to get implants 6 – 12 months after the surgery.  His eye is the biggest concern for us right now….really they only thing Nate has been stressed about in this whole process is his eye.  They have to make the call whether the eye has been affected while they are in surgery.  If they do have to remove the eye it will present another big trial.  Not only will adjusting to one eye be hard, but it will be very noticeable.  Because they have to take all of the surrounding muscles, his fake eye will not be able to move or blink.  As you can imagine, it wouldn’t be super fun to live the rest of your life being one of those people that others can’t help but stare at (though staring contests wouldn’t be a good idea against Nate anymore…he would win, ha).

The Treatments:

About a month after Nate’s surgery, assuming everything goes well and he is recovering, they will start radiation and chemotherapy.  Radiation is 5 days out of the week and chemo is once every 3 weeks.  Both radiation and chemo are very taxing on the body…especially with him not being able to eat as he normally would because of the surgery he is having.  Radiation and Chemo will last about 7 weeks.  So with surgery and treatments we are going to have some long and rough months ahead.

The Emotions:

Per usual, Nate is handling everything super, amazingly well.  The only thing that has really gotten to him in this whole process is the aspect of losing his eye…he really, really doesn’t want to lose it!  So all of our pray-ers out their, pray for the eye!  That is the biggest concern right now.  Both Nate and I feel very confident that he will survive.  I mean, the scary thing about cancer is that it could be progressing somewhere else in his body that is undetectable or could come back later.  However, we both feel very assured that he will beat this.  And if cancer does present itself later on, we will tackle it as it comes.  As far as me, I am handling all of this way better than I imagined as well, and I know it is not only my own strength.  I know that all of our ‘fans’ prayers, thoughts, and actions are keeping me afloat and calm within this storm.  I know that my prayers and all of yours are heard and answered.  Trials are crazy things.  They make us feel so weak and vulnerable, but, if we let them, they make us so strong and sure.  I have never been more sure in my life that service and praying for others makes a huge difference in others’ lives.  I feel that power every day.  I also know that my own prayers are heard and answered.  This cancer crap super sucks.  That will never change.  But the testimony of prayer and service I am rapidly gaining will never change either.

So, thank you everyone.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I hope that everyone can gain a stronger depth of prayer, service, and God’s love for us right along side of us.

And just because Nate has cancer doesn’t mean I need to deprive everyone of their Baby Ames dose 🙂

I mean, really.

suiting up for a run…starting him early! 

2 thoughts on “surgery & cancer details.

  1. Kaycee thank you for keeping us in formed. My thoughts and pryers are with you and Nate as you both are so very special!! Here is a little something I found to hope it helps in comfort. I may not be LDS but still have faith in the principles of the church.
    John Dotter

    The Lord has said:

    “For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.

    “Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall … follow after much tribulation.

    “For after much tribulation come the blessings” (D&C 58:2–4).

  2. Congratulations on being Cancer free, and for your determination, faith, and will to survive. As an active LDS male, and 4 year survivor of squamous cell carcinoma. I could easily relate to the story in the Deseret News. I too had surgery and radiation, but no chemo. After radiation I had severe Trismus. I could not even open my mouth to eat. With much effort, botox, dynasplint, I can now basically eat anything and everything.

    Life is great, just a little different, but great. So proud of you! Prayers for continued good health and cancer free.

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