Proton therapy spared me from side effects after a head and neck cancer diagnosis

When I first noticed what I thought was a swollen lymph node on the right side of my neck, I thought it was just an infection coming on. It didn’t hurt, but it was swollen. The swelling went down a few days later and then would swell back up again. It did that for the next few months. By March 2020, it had not gone away, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I put off going to the doctor. In June, I requested an ultrasound from my primary care doctor, followed by a biopsy and PET scan. They all came back negative. My ENT did notice a mass on the CT scan, and suggested that we watch and wait. Instead, I contacted MD Anderson for a second opinion. Getting answers from MD Anderson’s Suspicion of Cancer Clinic I chose MD Anderson because it’s ranked No. 1 in the nation in cancer care. We’ve lived all over the country, and every story that I’ve heard about MD Anderson always reiterated this reputation. I love my life and want to keep living it. I knew MD Anderson was the place I needed to be to do that. I called to make my first appointment. The health information specialists helped me start the appointment process. I flew to Houston from El Paso, Texas,  and moved into a furnished apartment. I had my first appointment on Sept. 17 with Dr. Gloria Iliescu at MD Anderson’s Mary Ann Weiser Suspicion of Cancer Clinic. Dr. Iliescu was calming and wonderful – exactly what’s needed in a doctor. She went above and beyond to set up my...