Monday, July 18, 2011

July Moneygrubbin':

Mary is a friend of my pal Lara's friend Nikki. Mary is 38, and was diagnosed two years ago with stage 3B tongue cancer. For those of you who aren't fluent in solid-tumor staging, that's not good at all.

Mary has been in remission since March of this year. She recently started hyperbaric treatment to help rebuild the bone in her jaw. A word (or many) about hyperbarics:

When you have chemo, and more especially when you have radiation, to kill off a cancer in your head or neck, everything suffers. All the structures in your head and neck are affected, especially cells that replace themselves quickly, like those in your salivary glands and in the lining of your mouth and throat.

Because the treatment is really fucking intensive, and because it kills off your salivary glands, and keeps new blood vessels from forming, things happen after radiation that are decidedly not cool. For one thing, your bone? Doesn't heal if it's injured. It just sits there and rots. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or "diving" is supposed to fix that. You sit in a big, huge can, usually with pure oxygen pumped in under enormous pressure (at least ten times the atmospheric pressure you'd feel at sea level), and that forces pure oxygen into your bloodstream and thus into other tissues. That in turn causes what we in the biz call "angiogenesis," which is Fancy-Pants Medicalese for Growing New Blood Vessels All Over.

"Well, Jo, that's fanfuckingtastic," you're saying to yourself. "What does this have to do with anything?"

Let me tell you: Mary had radiation to her neck and face. She lost her salivary glands. As a result, her teeth are breaking off at the roots. She can't have them pulled unless she undergoes this hyperbaric oxygen treatment, because the lack of blood vessels in her jaws mean that her face will, and I am not joking here, simply fall apart. I have seen it happen, and it is about the ugliest thing you can think of.

Mary's going to need dentures after this tooth-yanking and hyperbaric treatment is done. She probably has the same insurance company as I do: it'll cover her hyperbarics, and the tooth-pulling, but won't cover the anesthetic for her tooth-pulling (for the love of God) and won't cover her dentures. Which means, tra la, that she'd do this all without sedation and then not be able to eat.

So you should, if you're looking for a place to drop a dime or two, give her your money.

Her blog is here, the fundraising page is here, and here's a video interview she shot recently:

1 comment:

Dr. Alice said...

Done. I found her description of hyperbaric treatment really interesting, too.