The “Lump” Club

Many of you are aware of the medical condition I have been going through over the last six+ months, however I have never blogged about it, taking a “wait and see” attitude. Now that I have more information I feel like I need to begin chronicling it through my blog. It will be a good record, plus a warning in the event any of you go through a similar situation.

It all started back in about September, when I felt a small lump, the size of a marble under my ear on the left side of my face. As I had no medical insurance, I just left it thinking it would probably pass. By November it had grown to the size of an egg, was hard and noticeably sticking out of my neck. I finally called my family doctor and got the ball rolling.

I had a chest x-ray, a CTscan, bloodwork, 8 biopsies and other diagnostic tests trying to determine exactly what was going on. So, finally after all the tests, there is a firm diagnosis of my neck lump! (A shoutout to my niece Banna’s husband, Dr. Scott Matson, a dental surgeon in Philadelphia, who called it about four months ago on the phone, without even seeing any results of the tests. What a guy!)

I went to an appointment with the General Surgeon, who did my first two biopsies, then subsequently ordered an additional six more invasive biopsies done with isolated graph and computer technology in the hospital.

Last Thursday Dr. Williard then reported the following to me:
1. I have a tumor in my parotid gland. See picture. It shows the Parotid Gland, plus the nerves running through it.

parotid-gland

2. He suspects it is not cancer, but will not know for sure until it is taken out and analyzed. 80% of tumors in this location are benign.

3. He has only done one of these surgeries in the last five years so does not feel he is the best person to perform the surgery.

4. There is a major facial nerve that runs right through the middle of the gland (and maybe the tumor) so it is a very tricky procedure. Odds are 80% that there will be no problem.

5. If the nerve is damaged or severed it would result in facial drooping, as if I’d had a stroke on the left side of my face.

6. The operation takes about 3-4 hours to perform, but could go longer depending on the size of the tumor and it’s relationship to the nerve.

7. The opening runs from the front top of my ear, down to the bottom, then under my ear and across the side of my neck and then down to the bottom of my neck. The skin is then laid open to expose the tumor to be removed. (The picture attached is of a fresh operation scar, but obviously this is not me. And realize that it fades over time. I don’t want to scare animals or small children!)

pixofscar

8. He said the scar will be about 8-10″ long and will require skill to close the opening without leaving a big reminder. It is undetermined whether or not I will need a compression bandage.

9. The drainage tube will be removed after the second day.

10. Recovery is one to two weeks, depending on the severity. I may or may not stay overnight for one night at the hospital. Tenderness, swelling, numbness and some difficulty hearing are expected. Not much pain overall, but some fatigue. All will go away with time.

I have now been referred to Dr. Patrica Gilmer, an ENT who does about four of these surgeries a year. I meet with her on February 17th, my 65th birthday, then I will know a whole lot more. I am going armed with questions!

I have aligned myself with a Parotid Gland Tumor forum online, (yes, there really is one!) and it has been so educational to read posts from those who have gone through on both sides of the ordeal. And now that my Medicare has kicked in, it is full speed ahead to extract and analyze my lump. I am only expecting and accepting good news!

Perhaps this is all more than you care to hear, but in case you are now totally invested, I will keep the updates coming through my blog or e-mails. Let me know if you wish me to add your e-mail addy to “The Lump Club” newsletter. Late breaking news to as it develops.

Questions? Clarification, then just let me know. I am becoming an expert and have loads of gory details to share.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. lauralee, I’m very sorry about all this, but glad you are in good hands. Also, I’m glad that it is something definable and treatable. Good luck in the ensuing days!

    Reply

  2. So scary. But, you come from good stock, eh! I’ll keep you in my prayers.

    Reply

  3. Posted by J Michelle Swope on Monday, February 9, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Holy Cow! I for one look forward to any gory details you want to share, and of course, you are in our thoughts and prayers!

    Reply

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