You see, in late April 2014, our 29 year old son was diagnosed with stage 2 squamous cell carcinoma (cancer) in his mouth. The thing is, Jason does not smoke or chew or drink, yet he had mouth cancer. During final diagnosis, the specialist said Jason was in only the 5th percentile of getting this kind of cancer, yet he got it. The doctor said Jason was the 4th youngest patient he had ever seen with this kind of cancer and he wouldn’t be able to explain why he got it. Dr. Salamas, the Director of Advanced Specialty Education Program in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery in Boston wasn’t even taking any new patient’s, but because Jason’s situation was so unusual and because he is so young, Dr. Salamas accepted him as a new patient. We are so thankful he did! What an intelligent and genuinely caring surgeon.
We celebrated Jason’s 30th birthday on May 5th just 8 days before his first surgery on May 13th. Welcome to 30. On May 13th, the first surgery went very well. The doctor had to cut into Jason’s tongue and remove a lot of the bottom of Jason’s mouth. It was very invasive and as promised it came with a painful and long recovery period. The results of this first surgery showed that Dr. Salamas was able to get all the cancer out of Jason’s tongue and out of the bottom of his mouth where the tumor was. The question became, had the cancer spread at all. The reason why this question became so real is because from the diagnosis in April to the first surgery on May 13th, just a few weeks, the tumor on the bottom of Jason’s mouth had unexpectedly grown quite a bit.
The post op tests showed that there was a chance that the cancer had spread. The levels were significant enough that the specialist and the board of specialist all agreed on doing another surgery to be sure the cancer had not spread to Jason’s lymph nodes. Since Jason is so young, they want to be as aggressive as possible to get all of this cancer now.
The next surgery was scheduled for July 8th. They needed to give Jason enough time to recover from the first surgery but they didn’t want to wait too long after that. This surgery was to remove several lymph nodes in his neck to be sure the cancer did not spread any farther than this mouth. This was an external surgery and it proved to be a tough one, too, but it went very well. After this surgery, it was a big relief to be on this side of it all. What an unbelievable 3+ months, but now we had to wait for the final results.
As I finish writing this article, I’m thrilled to tell you that as of July 16th Jason is CANCER FREE. Dr. Salamas removed 46 lymph nodes from Jason’s neck and ZERO had cancer. What welcoming and heart relieving news! We were thrilled! We’ve been celebrating and praising God ever since.
What did we learn from this overwhelming experience? One thing we learned is – cancer doesn’t care. It doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, old or young. It doesn’t even care of you are a good or bad person. Cancer doesn’t care. Cancer was an unwelcome guest in our lives, but boy did it remind us of something.
The reality of cancer and the affects it can have on us has reminded us to deliberately and genuinely make the most of every moment of our lives. It is no longer just a nice saying for us. It has now become a goal every day. We thought we were doing a good job of that before, but what a difference one diagnosis can make to change your perspective.
I’m thankful for the gift of Jason and the gift of God’s healing in his body through skilled and caring medical staff. Through hearing this story, I hope you will join me in making a deliberate commitment today to make the most of the life you’ve been giving. Make the most of the chances you have to love and be loved. Make the most of every chance to be kind. Make the most of the time you have to mend relationships and build new ones. I have a feeling if we live like that we will never look back in regret.
Your Deliberate Decisions Determine Destiny.