It started in December of last year, when Bliss, saw an ear, nose and throat specialist about some sinus issues she was having. The doctor told her she had a polyp which was likely benign, and they scheduled surgery for May.
The 32-year old Norwich woman said she often thinks about that decision, and how different things might have been if she had chosen NOT to wait those five months.
“I should have had the surgery sooner,” she said, because then they would have realized the polyp was actually a tumor that much sooner.
When that diagnosis came – after she complained of other symptoms prior to the scheduled surgery – the tumor had already spread. A biopsy revealed it was Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma, a rare cancer that accounts for around 1,200 of the more than half a million new cancer cases diagnosed each year.
Because of the tumor’s size and location, it was classified as stage IV.
“Stage IV curable,” clarified Bliss. “The doctors have been positive about the outcome.”
In June, Rebecca underwent a highly invasive surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Bone and tissue from her leg were used to partially reconstruct her upper jaw and roof of her mouth.
But the surgery – which has left her with difficulties eating and breathing, numbness, impaired speech, and even affected her ability to smile – was only the first step in battling her cancer. Because of the location of the tumor, she would also require radiation and possibly chemotherapy.
It was following the surgery, while she was suffering through setbacks in her recovery, that she first heard about Proton Therapy. A more precise form of radiation, Bliss’s oncologist told her it could mean a lower risk of long-term side effects. The problem was that, because it was only available at a few select facilities, she would need to be accepted as a patient in order to proceed.
What she didn’t realize was that she’d have a far more difficult time getting her insurance company to approve the potentially life-saving treatment than finding a program to take her…
Written by Melissa Stagnaro, Evening Sun Contributor. Read the full article at evesun.com.