Hello to our friends, family, and many loved ones both near and far. Cristina here.
The last few months have been quite difficult for Tony and I and so was the choice to create this fund and share what we have been coming to terms with over the last few months. Tony is quite a private person and the decision to share the details of what he is currently going through and what we expect for the future was a difficult one, especially for him. Our youngest children, the twins, are on a very need to know basis right now, so please use discretion if you see us with them. The details I will share here are far more than they know right now.
In May of this year Tony and I took a long over due road trip to Kentucky for a family wedding. On the way Tony started having increased pain in what he had assumed was a tooth ache or maybe now that is was becoming so painful he thought it could be an abscessed tooth. He was taking a lot of ibuprofen and when we returned home he promptly made a dentist appointment. The dentist immediately recognized that his teeth seemed fine but his sinus area that should appear black and clear in his x-ray was showing up white and cloudy. The dentist referred Tony to an ENT (Ear, nose and throat Doctor) who gave him some antibiotics for a possible sinus infection and ordered a CT scan of his sinus area. After getting the imaging results back this doctor confirmed there was something in the area like a mass and he referred Tony to a more specialized ENT at UC Health. This doctor was able to take a biopsy and confirmed that the mass is squamous cell carcinoma.
Further imaging, analysis and appointments at the Cancer center at UC Health, confirmed the diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma and placed it at stage 4. With head and neck cancers we are told that there are tiers to stage 4 cancers a,b,c and he is 4a. We have only known of the Cancer since June.
The following, I will warn you, maybe as hard for you to hear and think about as it is for me to write, and as it has been to fathom our selves. I wish we could sit down with each of you and tell you all the details in person, but the time we have for that will not allow it. I apologize in advance if it is upsetting to hear. We promised we would be as open, honest and authentic as we can be coming here and asking for your help.
In one hand we are told this cancer is highly curable and that it is contained to this area and has not spread. In the other hand the means of getting there have no easy answers. The standard of care is to resect or surgically remove the tumor and then treat with chemo and radiation after surgery. What needs to be understood is that the tumor Tony has is through his sinus cavity down into the pallet of his mouth and into both sides of his upper jaw bone. The surgery would entail removing all his upper teeth and removing Tony’s entire upper jaw bone (maxillary resection) and any other nearby areas or structures the tumor is inside of. We can’t even say weather or not Tony will talk again or how well, eat on his own, or what quality of life the future holds. We can say that we remain positive and hopeful. The growth into the bone and deep structures is what makes this stage 4.
Tony was accepted into a medical trial at UC Health where he will receive a drug that is currently being used to treat cancer, but is not currently approved in the way they will use it during the trial he is participating in.
He went today 8/25/21 to receive a 30 minute infusion, and in 3 weeks he will go for another 30 minute infusion, and after that he will have the resection surgery, followed by chemo and radiation. Tony will also be needing reconstructive surgery following the first surgery, initially taking bone from another place in is his body to reconstruct the upper jaw bone area and I think it’s fair to assume that could also mean many more surgeries in the reconstruction process.
There is not one step in this treatment plan that is not accompanied by a great number of risks on its own. The trial drug has risks from common side effects to the worst imaginable. We hope for the best and plan for the worst at every stage of this process.
Tony has provided the sole income for our family since the fall of 2018 when I left my job. I was unable to continue as I awaited a much needed surgery. Recovering was a year long process for me and my health was not 100% but it was much better than before the surgery. Then in Dec of 2020 I injured my cervical spine, I have been suffering from a herniated C5-C6 with a compression of my spinal cord. I apologize that is the only thing I cannot talk about in great detail at this time. I can discuss my injury and symptoms but not how it happened. I don’t want to run on about myself, but I do want to present our current situation as accurately as possible. I have been told by two different spine doctors that I should have a disc replacement, I am currently in PT and waiting for an appointment with a neurologist in January. Tony is top priority and I will be looking for all alternatives to surgery at the moment. I don’t talk a lot about all this and a big reason for that is because Tony takes such good care of us that my worries have mostly been kept to thinking about how I will feel from day to day, and not at all about how we will provide for our kids or pay for our home in the future. He has done so well at providing for us the last few years, and I am so proud of him!
Upon first hearing all this news Tony and I just held each other and cried. And we have done that same thing multiple times since. It’s incredibly scary not knowing what the future holds for your health and on top of that Tony feels the weight of our little world on his shoulders, wondering what his family will do when he cannot provide for us. He feels so frustrated that he is doing so well at his job right now and he will not be able to fulfill his potential in his position at this time. Is it just one more thing on a very large list of unknowns for the future.
Tony’s first treatment was today but we already have quite a stack of bills piling up from the process of getting him this far. These funds will be used to help pay his current, and future medical bills. Including reconstructive surgery by a plastic surgeon, the details of which are still mostly unknown. Once his treatment moves along to the surgery portion he will not be able to work and we are not prepared to go any amount of time without his income. These funds will help take care of Tony, our home and our family while we plan and strategize what we can do to provide for ourselves in the future. Tony has a lot of trouble eating right now as you can imagine. There are several things on our wish list that would make preparing fresh, nutritious things for Tony a lot easier. He need a lot of supplementing in his diet right now and with that is added cost. These funds will also help us take care of his nutrition in the best way. He weighed in at 129 today, he used to be around 160, it’s hard to eat with such a painful mouth.
In a few weeks our situation will be quite urgent.
These funds will allow Tony and our family to focus 100% on his health and healing and not have the combined frustration and overwhelming anxiety of worrying about how we will provide for the kids and keep our home during this time.
As far as the goal… you guys know me…Go big or go home, right!
Thank you all so much you for taking the time time to read this. We love and appreciate you!
Before we found out about Tony’s cancer I had the desire to clean up the products we use in our home, I wanted to use less toxic ones, and this was the extra push I needed to get it done. I also wanted a vitamin alternative to help with my adhd, and an essential oil diffuser and quality essential oils to help the wide array of emotions and anxiety that come with cancer and life in general. I found all those things in the same place!!Non-toxic household products, patented vitamins, supplements, skincare and so much more. Honestly I am a still learning about it all because it’s still really new to me, but I love everything so far. If you ever wanted to replace the products in your home with non-toxic ones, easily access quality essential oils, vitamins, supplements, skincare and more…
I can help you! And it is one more way you can help us.
Thank you once more!