An ICU doctor faces stress of a cancer diagnosis while treating covid-19 patients.
I am an ICU doctor. I manage ventilators and care for the critically ill. In the middle of this global pandemic, my city, Chicago, is preparing for a surge of patients requiring intensive care.But I am nowhere near a hospital.I am home with my family. I am on the sidelines, watching from afar, grounded by my sudden cancer diagnosis.About four weeks ago, after already postponing twice, I went for a routine dentist visit. An exam of my tongue revealed a small white spot or “leukoplakia” on the side of my tongue that I had neither seen nor felt. I was told it needed to be biopsied. A few days later, the coronavirus forced my dentist to stop performing such routine exams.Two weeks ago, an ear, nose and throat colleague performed the biopsy and removed that white spot. The next day, he also stopped seeing outpatients. But my procedure had been done in time. Four days later, I had the results: squamous cell carcinoma in situ.So, the cancer part was bad. Cancers involving the head and neck do not respond well to radiation and chemotherapy and have a high rate of recurrence. But the in situ part was good. It means