My name is Daniel Jackson and I have written this blog, or document of my journey with cancer.
Since April 2012 when I was diagnosed there have been some real good things happen and some not so great, but I hope my story stands well as a story, but also a useful and valuable insight for anyone that has had cancer and treatments for conditions such as facial cancer, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, facial disfigurement, facial prosthesis, facial reconstruction.
In a nut shell this surmises my journey, but if you are a first time reader of this blog, please simply scroll to the first article with the headline of “my journey with ethmoid cancer – the background story” and work your way up, it won’t take too long to catch up!
Cancer for me now is thankfully dealt with and I can now say I had cancer, and survived! Today however I go under the knife to hopefully deal with cancers dirty aftermath, because today I am Dan Jackson – the man with a hole in his head!
The hole, or defect was never supposed to happen, the results of invasive open surgery to remove my tumor and my eye were supposed to be permanently concealed after surgery. As I have learnt from this is that if you are one of the thousands diagnosed with cancer everyday, the path to successful treatment will have it’s ups and downs and things may not go to plan. For me, the results of things not going to plan are clearly visible and today is the day I say goodbye to the hole in my face.
latissimus dorsi free flap.
latissimus dorsi free flap, quite a mouthful, as I lay in bed waiting for the morning, waiting for this interesting sounding procedure to be carried out on me.
Let me explain, the hole is now so large that a simple graft is not possible as it cannot support itself without a direct blood supply. The cavernous hole also needs filling with something thicker than skin so that it forms a firmer result.
The latissimus dorsi free flap then is a muscle from my back (under the shoulder blade) which will be removed with the skin still attached. The benefit to this particular muscle is that it is fed with a long vein which can be transplanted in one piece into another part of the body and blood supply connected into a local vein or artery. In my case my face! The slight catch is that the best place to plumb in this latissimus dorsi free flap is possibly into my jaw, more than likely my neck.
To do this is a major operation. I guess in technical terms it is a much bigger operation than the removal of my tumor and eye.
It requires a double operation. First to remove the latissimus dorsi free flap and make that good. This will take some hours. Then once this is free and made good, turn me over and work on preparing the face for transplant. To plumb in the long vein requires open face surgery. They have to cut along the side of the nose, around my mouth, and from there find a path to my jaw or neck. I will find out how they did when I wake up!
Why do it? It sounds really extreme. I do have a great prosthetic, and as such I have my life back, but for me it is simply this. The hole was never supposed to be there and I want to lead as normal a life as I can. Simple. The limitations it gives me will never change and I want to to this one time, and close the book.
It’s now 5am. I have to be at surgical admissions for 7.30am. I also have to meet the filming crew who are going to film the whole procedure for a TV program. I guess I should try to sleep, but then again I think I will be doing quite a lot if that today!
This entry is not finished yet so come back later for an update!