White Ridge Angus

Breeders of fertile, low input, problem free, maternally oriented Angus cattle with added muscle and fleshing ability

A message from Bobby:
 

June 12, 2022

 

Dear Friends:

 

For those who don’t know, in the fall of 2019 I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the right maxilla. I had two surgeries, which took quite a bit of the upper right jawbone and left a “hole” going through my right palate into the right sinus, so the surgeons could get cancer from the sinus. Those surgeries were followed by a full course of radiation and chemotherapy. For over two years since, things went well.

 

Then in late March, 2022, just before our bull sale, I noticed a couple of what felt like small bubbles form in the void area. The next week, I went to see my dentist. I had just received a prosthetic to fit into the void area, and had been having problems with it. She thought I likely damaged radiation affected tissue, and that radiation damaged tissue can heal in strange ways. She did not think it looked like cancer, but it should be monitored. For most of April, the little bubbles continued to stack upon one another, and the hole into the sinus actually sealed off, which I thought was great. No more water running out of my nose when I tried to drink. I could even drink with a straw.

 

In late April, the growth began leaving the void area, and it started adhering to my inner cheek. I became more concerned. I had a previously scheduled MRI set for May 11, so I followed that up with a visit to the oncology team at UVA on May 13, where a number of biopsies were taken. The MRI report said no cancer, and that the growth appeared to come from radiation damaged tissue. The pathology report said no cancer, but a few “atypical” cells. The folks at UVA wanted me to be examined by one of the surgeons, so I went back for another visit. The surgeon told me I had cancer, and that my best option was surgery, if I qualified for surgery. She said the surgery would be an all day event with a team of surgeons, where the cancer surgery would be followed by full facial reconstruction. An extended hospital stay would be followed by 6+ weeks at home. More biopsies followed.

 

Things finally came to a resolution on Wednesday, June 8 when I talked to the surgeon. She told me the tumor board decided the tumor was too advanced for surgery. I thought she handed me a death sentence. Then she referred to the new pathology report, which began with the statement “this is an exceedingly challenging case”. Multiple teams of pathologists independently examined the biopsies, and they finally agreed that I had an aggressive cancer, essentially of indeterminate type. Good news finally surfaced when she told me that cancers that are PDL1 positive have a chance at responding to immunotherapy, with higher scores having better chances of responding. My PDL1 score was very high. The doctors think we have a realistic chance of shrinking the tumor with chemo and immunotherapy to the point that surgery is possible.

 

As you can imagine, my life has been an emotional roller coaster the past few weeks. On top of the cancer stuff, I’ve been running around at a crazy pace, getting all the cattle vaccinated for pinkeye and poured for flies and trying to get the first cutting of hay finished. I hadn’t been feeling well for a couple of weeks and thought it was likely due to mental stress, so I just kept going. In fact, I had an infection in all the mess. I finished raking hay last Sunday, June 5 and pretty much crashed. I had a fever of over 103 and was taken to the emergency room. Antibiotics seem to have my temperature under control, and I’m just now starting to feel better (June 11). It’s been a bitch of a week. I know that I have to focus on my health and to reduce as much stress as possible. I still want to do some work on the farm, as I’m able, but know I need to find a balance between work, rest, and treatment. I plan to keep a very low profile. The swelling in my face has advanced to the point that it’s quite noticeable, and I really don’t want to answer a lot of questions.

 

My niece, Caitlin, will monitor the White Ridge Angus website and Facebook page. She will provide updates as necessary. If therapy works, I don’t expect a quick resolution. More likely surgery would be many months away. My first infusion is scheduled for Friday, June 17. Let the fight begin.

 

Bobby

Located in Fauquier County, Virginia