Background

BACKGROUND

Just a little background to catch everyone up….

I first went to the Dr in September 2012 with a nasty cough that I did not want turning into bronchitis. While there, the Dr noticed an “enlarged lymph node” but due to my nasty cold, it was not uncommon. Three weeks later, the cough is long gone but the swollen lymph node is still there. So I called and asked them what they wanted me to do and was set up with an ultrasound test. Those results came back inconclusive so next was a CT scan and that came back with “a mass” and was referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor. The timeframe is now late Nov. During his exam, he stuck a tube up my nose and down my throat. THAT was a lot of fun. After the exam, he said he could rule out Hodgkins Disease and lymphoma. Ok…great….wait…what???
The next step was a biopsy. This was done from the exterior and the procedure just happened to fall ON MY 50th BIRTHDAY! “So what did you get for your birthday?” Me: “STABBED IN THE DAMN NECK!”
I digress…..
The results came back on 12/28 and it showed a malignant form of cancer but they weren’t quite sure what kind. The ENT Dr. recommended Shand’s Hospital in Gainesville. It is about 80 minutes from my house
Mid-Jan, we went down there and another round with the ENT, another tube stuck up my nose and down my throat, and during the exam, this ENT discovered that my right tonsil was what was cancerous.
Wheels suddenly were set in motion and within two days I had blood work done, another CT scan, a meeting with the radiology Dr, and another biopsy, this time from inside my throat. (not fun, FYI)The Radiation Dr is Dr Mendenhall. That just happens to be the name of the small town in MS where I grew up. His assistant? Dr McGee. The town of Magee was Mendenhall’s arch rivals in football and was only 10 miles apart. I thought this was hilarious.
The good Dr Mendenhall informed me that while this particular type of cancer was 85-95% curable, the treatment is a bitch. I needed to receive radiation twice a day, five days a week, for six weeks with a dose of chemo thrown in once a week. Oh joy.

So armed with that knowledge, I girded my loins and cinched up my jockstrap and buckled my helmet (get the picture? Are you sure? Enough? Ok.) and resigned myself to getting started. But oh…wait….there is more.
(If I could play the Darth Vader/ Empire music right here for your audio pleasure, I would.)
“Mr Finley? You need to see the dentist.”
Ok…no problem. My teeth aren’t the greatest in the world from chewing tobacco for (mumble mumble mumble) years but I had been going to my dentist for once a month for the past three months and had been correcting some issues.
Soooo…..went down to Shand’s Dental office. One word about Shand’s in Gainesville. It is THE hospital for the University of Florida. Home of Steve Spurrier and Tim Tebow and Emmit Smith. Because it is the UF hospital, what do you think they have? YOU…in the back row? YES…..Students! So the UF dentist asked if it was ok if some students joined her and me, being the all around good guy that I am said sure…no problem. She brought in FIVE students! So when this dentist looked down in my mouth an poked my gums with sharp instruments? They ALL had to.
After the exam, she explained that I had three teeth that MAY need extraction in the next five years. (FIVE…5…V,,,,4+) OK. No problem. Oh but wait..yes there is. Here is a fun fact you can use to share…..because the radiation kills the bad cells, it also kills the good cells…like the red blood cells…like the ones that produce oxygen. So if one of these teeth on the bottom jaw needed extraction after radiation, then the lack of oxygen could be enough to begin necrosis (rotting) in the jaw bone.
So I had two options….one, leave the teeth in there and hope they don’t need extraction in the next five years. BUT IF THEY DO…..then I have to get into a hyperbaric chamber pumping out 120% oxygen for 90 minutes a day, for 20 straight days, then get the tooth pulled, then do it again for 10 more days. It is called “a dive”, based on what deep sea divers have to go through if they stay down too long. It was developed by a dentist in Miami area and has seen great results.
Anyway, those were my choices. So the next day, I had my two back lower molars pulled on both sides of mouth.
Oh…and after all this is over I “get’ to wear fluoride trays (mouth guards full of fluoride) for five minutes a day for the rest of my life AND I get to go visit my dentist FOUR times a year. Yippee!

so…two weeks after that oral surgery, I finally started radiation.

Long story…thanks for bearing with me. I promise the other stories won’t be so long. Well…probably not….pretty sure anyway….

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27 thoughts on “Background

  1. Godspeed and Take Luck, my love

  2. Nice yarn. I hope the next weeks are kind, but healing. You’ll be in The Riles’ thoughts and prayers throughout.

    In hoc.

  3. just dropped in to check the blog action and get facts ” nothing but facts” poor attempt at cop humour . But blogger you be. A typist I am not . poor choices at early age I took drafting instead of typing Wesson and all have suffered ever since ——who would have guessed computers
    gluck BIL DG

  4. The Mendenhall / Mageepoppi g up cannotbe ignored Definately a good sign! Just found out about your blog. GBWY

  5. So glad that you are doing a blog…you always had a knack with words. Interesting side note on Mendenhall and McGee. I lived in McGee when I was 2 for a short few months. Strange that I never knew that it was that close to Mendenhall. YOU are in our prayers, along with Kate to put up with you, every day. If you need anything, just call or text! I know soon this will all over over you will be back to normal!

  6. Michael I had no idea. I hope all goes well. The doctors names cracked me up. Watch that Magee guy…they can’t be trusted! I will follow your blog. Stay tough and good luck

  7. You are in my prayers Mike.

  8. I am utterly intrigued that you can write about something as serious as cancer and still manage to get humor into it – I love your style of writing – “asides” and fyi comments – please don’;t let this fall by the wayside – I am sharing it with EVERYBODY!!! I love you much – mom

  9. I am glad to know your fingers are health and in good working order to continue with your blog, while your throat gets some rest in order to make a complete recovery. It goes without saying you and your family are in my and our thoughts and prayers. I know you will challenge that 2100 deadline, just to see what happens that’s your nature. But, I hope you get some rest and take time to plan how you are going to ‘entertain’ (a PC word for what I really mean to say) yourself while getting through this circumstance. Stay strong, smile when you can and, above all, know others wish you only the very beat. Strength and Honor, my Brother!

  10. Mike, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Thanks for the blog. I can see you in front of hundreds of SWAT guys telling this story with SWAT hands! My Dad has been a 2 year survivor of mouth cancer now. Doing great so I’m very optimistic for you. Holler if you need anything.

  11. After a long day at work, chili for supper and a large jar of chocolate covered popcorn, I settled in my chair, cat by my side, dog in Don’s lap, then grabbed the computer to catch up on what is going on in the facebook world. I am still in shock…I had no idea this was going on in your life…went straight to your blog and started reading aloud to Don. As I read the part about the dentist visit, he would complete the sentences for me before I could finish. As you described the radiation mask, so many memories were brought back to me of the days when I would take Gill for his radiation treatments and he would always make fun of his helmet they made for his head. Our thoughts and prayers will be with you each and everyday of your journey. Hugs to your precious wife, we love you. Jennifer

  12. Look forward to seeing your new “headgear” at our next gathering. You know it’s been a good night when the headgear makes an appearance! Glad you decided to do the blog to keep us all posted. Will be thinking of you!

  13. Michael, I can hear your voice as you type your thoughts. I concur, Drs. Mendenhall and McGee are nothing more to me than divine intervention, which indeed means everything! thoughts and prayers with you on this journey.

  14. Thinking about you brother.
    And of the time Arty and I came to DFW full of ourselves and our MBA’s and were promptly given a dose of reality. Not knowing whether to laugh or cry we decided to drown our sorrows(heavily drown them). So we accompanied you, Kathy and TL to a Rangers game. Everything was good until Arty, upset at his poor quality Nachos and the play of one Rubin Sierra, decided to throw his Queso laden shoe at Sierra who was in right field. Thank God we grabbed it from him before he could throw it or we would have been introduced to how to play grab ass at the Arlington jail. fun times indeed.

    With a great attitude and a supportive family by your side, You got this beat already!
    Barrett
    PS Shoot us your number so we can call and check on you.

  15. Mike, Thinking a lot about you lately. My admiration for having the courage and positive attitude to share your experiences with friends. Paul

  16. Hi Mike, I am in shock. I can’t believe you have to go through all of this. I’m glad to see you’ve kept your sense of humor – that definitely helps in the healing. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Take care and hoping for a speedy recovery :-)

  17. Hey,
    So glad that you decided to do a blog. What a great way for all your friends and family to stay updated on your treatments.
    Know that you may not be up to it… but a lot of us would love to see you in April at the conference. Just let me know.
    If you need anything …just ask.
    Journey – really?

  18. Hang in there big guy. I have been through a little of this, but as usual you are taking it to an whole new level. We are thinking of you.

  19. Mike: stay in the fight! We will always have your back!

  20. Dear Mike:

    I am sorry to hear that you are going through this. Continue to keep your good attitude and you will do well. I just went through a similar scare for lymphoma. I had surgery two weeks ago… last Monday they cleared the lymphnodes they dug out of my neck not to be lymphoma. I can personally relate to at least some of what you went through very well. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Call me the next time you are sitting through chemo and want to pass some time. 615-668-3795

  21. One behind you.Still praying for you. You, 195 lbs? You filled out didn’t ya.

  22. Michael, Tracy sent me the link to your blog. I just wanted you to know I am thinking of you and your family. You still crack me up! You and Kathy are such a funny pair, but I know this is hard to smile thru. Please tell her hi also and know I am thinking of you both. :)

  23. PLEDGE. I JUST WANTED TO WISH YOU WELL AND TYPE SOMETHING IN ALL CAPS CAUSE I KNOW HOW MUCH YOU ENJOY THAT.

  24. Just thinkin’ about you Mike. I hope you’re doing well.

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