Today was my two week post-op. All is going well. Eating and speaking are uncomfortable but no longer painful. I can eat most anything I want, and activity is no longer restricted.
About 10% of my tongue was removed – more than I had thought. People tell me my speech is almost normal, though to me it feels like I just left the dentist’s office after a filling.
I will not need radiation or chemo, however the usual cancer rules apply. Regular follow-ups, and I will not be considered cured for 5 years. If it recurs, it will typically be in the first year or two.
The hashtag (#KenLicksCancer) is from my daughter Kate, created when things were bleak and we did not know how this would end up. Her confidence and optimism, and that of the rest of my family and friends, helped a lot.
But the hashtag is inaccurate. I did not lick this cancer, my medical team did. My job was easy: whatever they thought was best, I said OK. They did the hard part.
I made it through with the love and support of my family and friends, as elegantly symbolized by the heart-shaped cushion at the top of this post made by my granddaughter Hannah, who also gave me a note that touched my soul.
Many people have been thinking of me during the past month. Many prayers have been offered for healing, although one person apparently screwed up and prayed for a big hematoma under my jaw instead. All were nevertheless appreciated.
This whole experience was surreal – 30 days from diagnosis to removal to confirmation that they got it all. But my experience was unusual. Many readers have shared their own cancer journeys with me, and those of close family and friends. Most were more arduous than mine and many did not end well. I am lucky. I know that and hope that sharing my journey did not cause heartache for those who were not so lucky.
One other thing helped me get through this: this blog. Writing helped me crystallize my feelings at various times when it felt like my life had been tossed about like a mobile home in an Oklahoma tornado. Without my dear readers, I would not have had this blog, and without this blog I would have been unable to process what I was going through.
So thank you my family and friends, and my avid and casual readers now spread across 43 countries, for helping me get through the dark clouds and find a bright, bright sunshiney day.