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A Refreshing Knapp – Life brings many odds to weigh (Nov. 26, 2014 issue)

By Ray Knapp
When you hear about odds being 99 to 1, you automatically think, “I’ll never win that.” That’s the odds they gave me about that polyp on my vocal cords not being cancerous last month. When I returned to ENT for the follow-up to see if the operation was healing well, Dr. Winstead informed me that it was doing great, however he had some unsettling news that the Lab had confirmed the polyp he removed was unfortunately cancerous.
The optimistic pre-op opinion was 99 to 1 against it being cancer. I was caught off guard. I had beaten the odds, but it sure wasn’t a thrill to know that I had beaten them in the wrong direction.
The radiation/oncology doctor did say it had been discovered in an early stage and there was a 95 percent chance that it could be cured with just radiation treatments.
“What about the other 5 percent?” was my next question.
When cancer is diagnosed, and it concerns you – you want the very best treatment. It turned out the number one hospital in the U.S. for cancer treatment is Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, followed closely by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Of course not everyone, including myself, has the resources to go to New York or Texas for treatment, so I checked out the standing for Mountain States Cancer/Oncology Center. It is rated above the national average. That’s where I’m going.
I was assigned as a radiation patient to Dr. Nathan Floyd. He has 15 years’ experience in that field and completed his residency at the prestigious Baylor College of Medicine Radiation Oncology in Houston, Texas. Knowing that he had 15 years’ experience and completed his residency at that top-notch school made me feel less anxious. After talking with him about my treatment plan, I felt I was in good hands.
The people who work there are super-friendly and have this up-beat attitude, like, “We can lick this stupid cancer.” As an example, my two radiation therapists, Randi Carter and Mandy Childers (I don’t know why, but Randi and Mandy remind me of Bambi and Thumper – those 2 girls I saw on a James Bond movie last night.) Maybe it’s because their sweet and friendly attitude belies their no nonsense professionalism.
They have fashioned a plastic, shoulder length mask that reminds you of chicken wire – it gives you the freedom to breathe and see-but not move-after they snap the sides down on this cot you are laying on. It’s designed like that so they can mark it and know exactly where to administer the radiation without allowing you to shift around and mess things up.
The doctor said there would be some side-effects like a sore throat; maybe some sores in my mouth, and throat. All in all, I wasn’t happy about that, but felt I could put up with those discomforts… considering the alternative.
Up to this point, my throat feels fine, but my tongue has a feeling that I recall from back in my early teens when I was having dinner at the home of a girl (who didn’t know it, neither did her brother who I pretended to be visiting, but she was my girlfriend) and when I took a bite of her mother’s super-hot beans, I just couldn’t spit them out in front of her. Yeah, my tongue feels kind of blistered like it did then.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, and a day free of treatments. Frances and I, along with a host of volunteers from Grace United Methodist and 9th Street Baptist churches will be preparing and delivering meals to the county’s less fortunate.
That certainly gives me pause to reflect on the blessings God has bestowed on all of us, including the desire to help one another. It has also made me reflect on this cancer. Rain falls on everyone, and disease of one sort or another strikes everyone as well. There is nothing new under the sun and whatever happens to you, or me, we still have much to be thankful for; including, and maybe primarily, God’s love, which is always 100 percent.