2018 New Staging for HPV-related Oropharyngeal Cancer
I am excited to share that as of January 2018 New Staging was released for those diagnosed with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer. When I first learned about this new staging I was concerned that somehow my story would be less meaningful and important for those who heard it, and that it would have less of an impact in creating awareness and saving lives worldwide. I have since changed my mind, and am more enthusiastic than ever to share my story. I believe this new staging will give people hope and confidence to fight to survive.
Everyone who knows my cancer story, knows that in May 2014 at age 44, with no symptoms but a small bump on my neck, that I was diagnosed with stage IV HPV-related oral cancer. Shortly thereafter I had a radical tonsillectomy, neck dissection (42 lymph nodes removed) followed by seven weeks of chemo, radiation and a feeding tube. Most people also know that I made videos to each of our three kids that went something like this, "One day you are going to get married, I am not going to be there, this is what's important." The idea of stopping others from ever having to make these kinds of videos for their kids is what fuels me on a daily and weekly basis to share my story and educate others about HPV-related oral cancer, oral cancer screenings and the HPV vaccine. While surgery, radiation and chemo were brutal, they were all temporary, and my hope is to inspire and encourage others to fight on, battle cancer and live their new normal. My last treatment was August 11, 2014, and today I am cancer free.
Here is the GREAT NEWS. January 1, 2018 new staging was released as a result of the terrific results that HPV-related oral cancer patients are having with some combination of surgery/radiation/chemo/immunotherapy.
While all patients have tailored treatment plans specific to their cancer, overall the prognosis for those diagnosed with HPV-related oral cancer is extremely positive. In fact, while today I am cancer free, if I HAD been diagnosed in 2018, rather than in 2014 my diagnosis would have been stage 1 HPV-related oral cancer, rather than stage IV.
My hope is that by sharing this information, that patients, as well as their caregivers and families, will feel inspired. Everyone impacted by the diagnosis of HPV-related oral cancer, while still feeling scared, will also feel encouraged and have hope, knowing that they need to Fight, Battle, Remain Positive and Know that it's all Temporary. They will hopefully understand that while HPV-related oral cancer is extremely serious, it is a cancer that many have beaten. As the overall staging for HPV-related oral cancer has changed for the positive, YOU should know in your heart that it is Highly Likely You Will Survive.
As I remind everyone, I am not a doctor, but rather a Survivor. I created the website, www.SupermanHPV.com to provide inspiration and information for those looking for information regarding HPV-related oral cancer. I hope this blog does that for you.
Please reach out if you need someone to speak with, need encouragement or feel that I can provide you with information that would help you.
I am on the Board of the Head & Neck Cancer Alliance, www.HeadandNeck.org, and this gives me access to a lot of good information regarding Head & Neck Cancer. Feel free to also check out our website.