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'I have terminal cancer. And I'm dying in a yearish.'

'I have terminal cancer. And I'm dying in a yearish.'

The enormity of the news didn't sink in fully, not at first, even after my doctor uttered the words: “I'm sorry, we did find cancer.” My husband, Dave, and I had only the faintest sense that evening that our lives had been hijacked forever.

Early 2014 brought major surgery, then six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation. Eight months later they found cancer again, so it was Christmas surgery and more of the same. When a scan in June showed new tumors, the outlook turned bleak. The cancer, a rare type — metastatic squamous cell head and neck carcinoma of unknown primary — had gone systemic.

Like all doctors, oncologists want to offer patients hope...

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