January 2009: I woke up one morning, and randomly rubbed the left side of my neck. I felt two very large bumps, which I assumed were swollen lymph nodes. “I’m just fighting something,” I told myself, and promptly forgot about them. Whether it was denial or just my natural forgetfulness (ok, it was probably denial…), I didn’t do anything about the lumps for about 9 months.
September 2009: I mentioned the still-present lumps to my wife at the time, and both of us agreed that it was time to take some action. There was no way my body was still fighting something for 9 months, and I was fairly confident that the lumps had remained there over the entire course of time. I made an appointment with my ENT, and he confirmed that they were indeed swollen lymph-nodes. We decided to perform a fine-needle biopsy of the nodes. It wasn’t guaranteed to be confirmatory, and sure-enough, the results came back as “atypical.” I had received an atypical diagnosis in the past for a mole on my back that had been removed. I never really understood what that meant, but just had the feeling that it wasn’t exactly cancer... yet. However, my ENT told me that this time, it was a more vague diagnosis than confirmatory of anything in particular, and recommended an excisional biopsy.