The surgeon I saw today--and I wish I hadn't already used the name "Dr. Heron"--reminds me of a large wading bird. He has a shock of untidy brown hair, a nose two sizes too large, and stands about six foot five. Most of his height is in his legs, and he stoops, so the general effect is that of a drab crane with bunions. He's sweet and shy and quiet, but then comes out with something dryly funny and a nice grin that makes his face all wrinkly. In other words, he's nothing like what he seems in the unit.
Dr. Crane stuck flexible tubes up my nose and into my sinuses, fiddled around and took some pictures, and gave me the following news:
1. The CT showed absolutely zilch. Given that the tumor isn't highly vascular, this comes as no surprise at all. Near as we can tell, it hasn't invaded the bone, though, which is good.
2. It takes up a surprising amount of my soft palate and is invading my sinus. Again, no shocker; that's pretty typical tumor behavior.
3. He's not certain that the lymph node he saw is nasty because of cancer, but better safe than sorry, so we're going ahead with the biopsy. Yee-haw.
4. It's weird that nobody noticed this last year during my exam.
5. He's seen enough of these tumors to know that some people die from them.
That last point is reassuring rather than otherwise. Most surgeons in most places--even ENTs--haven't seen that many minor salivary gland tumors. And most people don't die from 'em. To have seen enough to have had patients die is an excellent thing; it means that he'll be able to resect this little bastard totally and know what he's doing.
I might lose some teeth (minor concern). I will certainly have what Dr. Crane termed a "great big hole" in my head (moderate concern). I will certainly have to have wide external-beam radiation (major concern). All of that, though, is in the future--and it's a future that won't be determined until I get the MRI and PET scan.
The upside of all of this is that I got a prescription for one five-milligram tab of Valium to take before the PET. I'm not usually a huge fan of benzodiazapenes, but this one I'm looking very forward to.