“In March 2012, I felt a pain in my face around my right cheek. Since I have battled sinus pressure for years, I thought that’s what it was and put off going to the doctor. It was when my front right side teeth went numb that I knew I needed to see someone.
I started with an ear, nose and throat specialist, thinking sinus pain had referred to my teeth. That doctor sent me to my dentist, who did a root canal on one of the teeth. That didn’t help, so I was sent to an endodontist. He decided to do an apicoectomy, which is similar to a root canal but from the root down into the tooth.
He found that I had a huge hole where bone was missing in front of my right maxillary sinus. He removed some odd-looking tissue that was sent off to pathology.
It took a little over a week to get confirmation, but on June 29 the diagnosis came back: undifferentiated spindle cell sarcoma – stage 3.
I learned that only 1 percent to 2 percent of head and neck cancers are classified as sarcomas, so this was rare. I was lucky to get in to see Dr. James Suen so quickly. By July 5, I was in the operating room. I had almost two months of recovery time before starting chemo under the care of Dr. Laura Hutchins and daily radiation under the care of Dr. Jose Penagaricano.
I am done with treatments now, but I know my journey is far from over. I am so glad that my doctors here at UAMS will be with me every step of the way.”