Monday, December 14, 2015

You Are Not Alone

Cancer is cancer. 

In my opinion, it does not matter what type of cancer a person gets because the reality is, all cancer all is bad.

It has always seemed odd to me to financially support research for a particular type of cancer because all cancer is fundamentally an out-of-control mutation of the body's cells.  

What I have learned from the 14 surgical procedures on my tongue is that the physical devastation of most cancer types can be hidden from the public. I mean no disrespect to those who have suffered from breast cancer, liver cancer, or others, but most cancer survivors can cover their scars and camouflage most of the  damage that cancer leaves in its wake. Tongue cancer survivors are not as "fortunate", however. We cannot hide that we talk different or that we cannot swallow the same. We do not have a functioning tongue to easily sweep away the food that cakes into our teeth as we eat in public. If we had radiation treatments, we likely have limited salivary gland function and cannot easily eat or talk much without a beverage in hand. We look at artisan bread as a tasteless sponge in our mouths. At the very least, it forces us to put our egos aside and be humbled since the swath of destruction is out there for everyone to see when we endure the ravages of tongue cancer.

When I found out that I was going to have 1/2 of my tongue cut out, I panicked at first. Then I did what most do when we want information on something we do not understand... we "Google it"... The trouble was, when I searched, nearly all of the information referred to the "facts" about hemiglossectomy rather than the reality of what I should expect. With the exception of one video I found, every site wanted to educate me on what a "hemiglossectomy" was I wanted to know what to expect.

As you probably know by now, my intent in starting this blog was to not just to chronicle my story but to encourage others and help people who were also facing an impending hemiglossectomy. People who were about to face the unimaginable. 

Regardless of what you are facing, how you get through it comes down to choice. A choice that involves a series of individual steps in the direction that you affix your gaze. 

I know from experience that the reassuring voice from one of my iPhone GPS apps giving me a heads-up, warning me about upcoming turns, traffic and hazards, making the journey easier. 

The point is, knowing what to expect can be hugely impactful. Knowing that something bad is in our future can be unsettling, but when we lack information about what lies ahead, it can be downright scary.

With this in mind I have decided to begin building a platform for others to tell their stories, allowing their experiences to be a blessing to the world. I hope to help those who are facing a hemiglossectomy by giving them the information they need to mentally prepare.

In October of this year I took a trip out to New York City and met with an amazing woman, Erica Casucci, who had a hemiglossectomy just two-months prior to when we met. Erica was researching the procedure prior to having it done and found this blog which helped prepare her for what lay ahead. I asked her if she would be willing to be my first interview to help others and she agreed, even though she still is struggling with her speech. This following video was filmed on October 17, 2015:

If you have any questions, please feel free to send them along and I will try to address them in an upcoming blog or video post.

Thank you all for your love and support!

Very Truly Yours,
Robert B. Haase
A Blessed Man
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