Surviving HPV-related tonsil cancer twice

While I was shaving one morning in 2012, I noticed a large lump under my jaw. I immediately made an appointment to see an ear, nose and throat specialist, who told me that it was just a benign cyst.  Over the next year, I went back for two additional exams. By November 2013, a nurse finally suggested a CT scan and an additional biopsy of the tissue under my jaw. Bingo! They discovered the lump was from cancer that metastasized from my left tonsil. The cancer was caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). At that point, I quickly assembled a list of referrals, talked to my doctor friends and made follow-up appointments near my home in Memphis, Tennessee. I knew I wanted to get the best care in the country for my specific cancer. Phone call after phone call led me to MD Anderson. My tonsil cancer treatment at MD Anderson Within 24 hours of calling MD Anderson, I had scheduled an appointment and arranged to travel to Houston from Memphis, Tennessee. I first met with my MD Anderson oncologist, Merrill Kies, M.D., and radiologist, William Morrison, M.D., in December 2013. They confirmed that I had stage IV HPV-16 tonsil cancer, and I started chemotherapy about two weeks later. I had eight weeks of chemotherapy as part of a clinical trial, followed by six weeks of daily radiation therapy plus weekly chemo. I managed to make it through this period, but was terribly sick and had a great deal of pain and sensitivity, as well vocal cord paralysis that forever changed my voice. In June 2014, I was declared...