If you have kept up with this all along or are just plain impatient, you may want to skip to the last entry. If so, press the button below.
Otherwise, start with the prologue below, and all will make sense.
In the beginning, there was darkness, and. . .
Nope. Not quite it.
Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a man from Nantucket. . .
No. Not that either.
Okay, for real now. In 1981, the summer I turned 11, I went to camp in Colorado for 4 weeks. I was a chubby kid when I left, but I came back substantially lighter. This made me happy.
Then, a few weeks after returning home, I spent the night under an air conditioner. I awoke with an earache in my right ear. It felt like an ordinary earache, but it was persistent. My pediatrician found no sign of infection, but he prescribed an antibiotic which gave me a rash. This was interesting, but did nothing for the ear. I saw an allergist, but the antihistamine he gave me only made me drowsy. Meanwhile, whatever it was in my ear was progressing. The ear pain was getting severe. I could no longer breathe through my right nostril. One day, during football practice, I was running laps, and it suddenly felt as if I couldn't breathe at all. It felt as if there were a ball just above my mouth that would drop a little and block my airway every time I breathed heavily. That was the tumor saying 'hello.' The poor coach, a sensitive new history teacher, was required to teach athletics and had recently been indoctrinated in the art of coaching at a boys' prep school. I think it mostly involved yelling, which he did, urging me on with a reedy, self-conscious, incongruously harsh voice. I think he felt very bad about that later.
Finally, with my parents, I visited an ear, nose, and throat surgeon, Dr. Sherlock Holmes. He had the original idea of actually looking at the area involved. He used a pharyngoscope on me. A pharyngoscope is like a colonoscope small enough for a hobbit. It fits in your nose. Thus began my adventures.
I will someday write the story of my nasopharyngeal rhabdomyosarcoma, the one that started it all, but now, just the basics:
The above tumor was golfball-sized. Located behind my nose and in my right inner ear canal, it caused pain by sealing off an air bubble in the middle ear, creating pressure on the drum. I had a total of four major surgeries first to diagnose, then to explore and remove, and then two more just for giggles. I received 6 weeks of daily radiation treatments and 2 years of chemotherapy. Then, I 'went into remission.' Life returned to normal until. . .
All comments, suggestions, compliments, insults, and hate-mail should be directed to Tom@tumoriffic.org.