I visited my general practitioner in February 2019 with a sore throat and a swollen neck that caused pain in my ear. I was diagnosed with tonsillitis. I was prescribed antibiotics which reduced the swelling and eased the pain.
Later on, the same symptoms came back, so I went back to my doctor and was again told it was a bad case of tonsillitis. I was prescribed more antibiotics, which again eased the discomfort. However, I felt a soft, squishy lump at the back of my throat and began choking on my food. It seemed like the lump was taking up space in the back of my throat. I also felt a hard lump on the left side of my neck. So for the third time, I went to my doctor, but this time asked to be referred to the local hospital. I was concerned about the lump and I wanted to know the reason it was there. What was causing it?
I made an appointment at the hospital, in its Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) department. After a biopsy and some scans, they said it appeared to be tonsil cancer. However, after more blood tests, I was found to have Difficile Big Cell B Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, stage 2. It was on my left tonsil and in the lymph nodes in my neck.
Future chemo appointments are scheduled. As a preventative measure, I will receive lumbar punctures to direct the treatment into my spine. Normally, chemo doesn’t reach the spine or brain, but there is a possibility that the type of cancer I have could spread to those areas.
Learn from my experience. Look for a second opinion—especially if you suspect more is going on with your health. That choice may just save your life! My doctor treated me for what he believed was a nasty bout of tonsillitis. I fully accept he had my best interests at heart, but I just had a gut feeling it was something more. I remain positive as I begin my journey to recovery.
Will You Share Your Journey?
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. As part of that theme, we post stories written by oral cancer survivors, caregivers and medical professionals for our 30 Stories in 30 Days™ campaign. The insights they share can help others along their journey.