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Members Mail Answered

Date:      01/15/2006
Anthony (Chuckie) Defeo
Subject: Independent Study at Cornell

Original Submittal:

Hey Bob and Mary

It's been awhile. I hope all is well with both of you. Are you in Florida or Sugarloaf? How bad is Mary kicking your ass? Unfortunately I have some bad news to relay.

I noticed a swollen lymph gland on the left side of my neck in August and went to the Dr. at that time. My blood work came back normal so I waited until I got settled up here in Ithaca before going to the ENT Dr. in early October.

The short of the story is that I have metastatic squamous cell carcinoma. On November 14, I had a modified radical neck dissection where they removed the swollen gland that I had noticed plus 23 other lymph nodes, 7 were positive for cancer on histology, the largest was 4.2 cm in size. Since they were unaware of where the primary tumor was (lymph nodes do not have keratinizing squamous epithelia, therefore the cancer in them had to come from somwhere else) they also did a series of "blind" biopsies (8 different locations in oral cavity) to find the primary.

They did not find the primary then, but my CT scan suggested that the primary might be in my tonsils as one side was enlarged, so on Dec 30th, I had my tonsils removed.

Unfortunately, the pathology on the tonsils was negative for cancer. To date the do not, and possibly never will, know where the primary tumor is/was. Therefore I am considered to have "occult" head and neck cancer. The parameters of the cancer place it as stage IV and the reality is I have an approximately 50% chance of survival.

To say that I have been a little overwhelmed would be an understatement, but I have kept a positive outlook. I even got out for the first time since late October for a bike ride. I did a 3 hr ride on Friday as the weather was fantastic.

Just think when I was kicking your flabby ass this summer it was as a cancer victim :-)

I am scheduled to begin combined radiation and chemotherapy on January 23. I will be receiving three chemo treatments starting on the 23 and then every two weeks. I will also be receiving 33 radiation treatments starting on the 23 and every weekday until the 33 treatments have been given.

I am lucky in that my girlfriend Kristin, my hiking partner, has quit her job in Watertown and has moved in with me to take care of me during the treatments.

I look forward to the summer so I can kick your ass with my new cancer induced increased strength to weight ratio, ie. think Lance.


American Road Cycling Response:

Whew! That was close.

When you said "bad news," we thought you were going to say you got hit by another truck.

- SlingShot


Editor's Note: Bob and Mary have now redoubled their training schedule in order to take advantage of the approaching window of opportunity for kicking Chuckie's ass.



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