Kicking Stage 3 Cancer's Butt

Hello everyone my Name is Elisa Aleman. My best friend Kristine and her husband Josh have had a bad couple of years and an even worse 2013 year. I have known Kristine for about 28 years. I have known Josh for almost 4 years. Josh unfortunately got laid off twice from two different jobs this year.

In March of 2011, Josh burned the roof of his mouth. He has been dealing with a lot of upper mouth issues. A doctor decided to do 3 biopsies on the top of his mouth. Because it was so near to the nerve josh has had to deal with excruciating mouth pain. He has been on different medications and treatments.

In January 2013 he found out that he had two bilateral hernias that he had to get surgery for. On Valentine's Day they got married (which is their anniversary of their first date-best day of their lives). They were planning to have an actual wedding in March of 2014 unfortunately they had to cancel their plans due to an unfortunate medical event.

In March of 2013, Josh had found a small lump on the left back side of his tongue. He went to an ENT doctor for his original upper mouth issues. He had told the doctor of the lump but the doctor thought he may have been chewing on his tongue so he received a mouth guard for the chewing.

In October of 2013, Josh had asked Kristine to check on his tongue because the small lump was still there. Kristine felt his tongue on both sides with gloves and the lump felt rock hard to Kristine. Josh had went to his primary care doctor who he had referred him to another ENT doctor. The ENT doctor did a biopsy on the tongue and found out that he had tongue cancer. The ENT doctor had a PET scan and MRI done to see if the cancer had spread. The tests showed that it may have hit one lymp node. They were referred right away to a surgical specialist at Loma Linda. Josh had met with the doctor and due to the aggressiveness of the cancer they were able to make surgical arrangements the following week.

Josh got a hemiglossectomy which is a removal of one side of the tongue. He also got 30 lymph nodes removed. Due to the area of his neck where he got them removed it caused a lot of swelling which causes his airway to close. To protect his airway they performed a tracheostomy which is an opening in his neck area to allow him to breathe. He also has a feeding tube in his stomach to feed him. Because he has half his tongue he will have to relearn how to talk, swallow, and eat. He can partially do it. It may take a few months even years depending on how fast he can learn. This will be a tough process.

Josh was supposed to be out of the hospital after 1 week. Due to some complications that his wife Kristine had to aide to with his breathing and choking from the secretions and tracheostomy they ended up staying in the hospital for 2 weeks. His wife Kristine is an RN. She and Josh's mother, Sally, stayed with him throughout his hospital stay taking shifts. Due to some of the poor care from the hospital staff they couldn't leave him alone. Kristine had to help the nurses with a lot of the patient care since Josh would have some bad days and nights. They finally got discharged home on Thanksgiving Day!

It took some time and adjustment but Josh is at home resting and recovering. They met with an oncologist and found out that his cancer was stage 3 since it did hit the lymph nodes. He doesn't need chemotherapy (yay!). However, He will need 7 weeks of radiation in his mouth. Due to the location of the procedure he will probably loose teeth, have some burns from the radiation, and his swallowing reflex will get weakened. He will still have to be fed through his feeding tube during the radiation.

They are doing the best they can with only one income. They are barely making it by paying their normal day to day bills let alone the unexpected medical bills. The bills are becoming more difficult for them to pay as a newlywed couple. Whatever you can contribute can help this couple move on with their lives and help move forward in hopes of growing their family in the near future. Please share and pass this along to family/friends you may know whom wants to help in any way. Kristine and Josh appreciate any support that they can get from everyone. Thank you again for taking the time to read their story.


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Elisa Aleman 
Simi Valley, CA
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