Please allow me to take a brief moment here to give me deepest, most heartfelt thanks to Maine-based periodontist Dr. Laura Reidy and her husband, dentist Dr. Jonathan Tozer, and one of their staff – whose name I am very sorry to say I have forgotten, but which I will find out and post here – who detected the cancer early enough to probably save my life. (This staff member noted the first signs of cancer in a regular cleaning session; she alerted Dr. Tozer, who alerted Dr. Reidy.)
In particular, Dr. Reidy did something -- twice -- that I will be eternally grateful for. At first, it looked like it might be cancer, so she sent me to a cancer surgeon, who took biopsies and came to the conclusion that it wasn't.
Although Dr. Reidy is not a cancer surgeon, she looked at my mouth and would not let the matter rest with the surgeon's judgement. She took another biopsy herself, sent it off to be examined, and it came back positive. Her pro-active approach, skill at collecting usable biopsy, and courage to question the surgeon's conclusion, may well have saved my life, because the cancer was caught before there was lymph node involvement. As noted in my previous post, the difference is a 68% vs. 17% five-year survival rate for the type of cancer I had.
I then went to another cancer surgeon, and had surgery which removed some of my palate and upper teeth.
A year after my first surgery, my surgeon thought a spot on the edge of the surgical area looked a little suspicious, and did a "spot biopsy." It came back negative and he didn't pursue it. But when I saw Dr. Reidy two months later, she saw the same suspicious area and was again unwilling to assume that the surgeon's biopsy was correct. Her instincts told her it was still worrisome. She took another biopsy, and it came back positive. So, she may have saved my life not once, but twice, after she and her husband (and that assistant) identified it as possibly being cancer in the first place.
I went to yet another surgeon, the excellent Dr. Charles Norris in Boston, who did more surgery in the same area. And this time, the cancer does indeed appear to be gone -- at least there's been no sign of it in more than five years, and the prognosis is therefore good.
So, my deepest, most sincere thanks to all those who helped me. There is no way I can express my gratitude enough.