Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma

 Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma

What is Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma (NPC)?  To be honest, I had no clue about this cancer until I was diagnosed.  NPC is a rare cancer found in the Asian population and high in the male gender. Who would of thought that I would be its next candidate… according to those statistics?  I have learned one thing–cancer does NOT discriminate.
NPC is a cancer found in your head and neck region.  It is located in your nasopharynx region which is behind your nose, upper throat area, to the base of your skull.


What were my symptoms? I noticed congestion and phlegm. The phlegm changed colors from clear, to yellow, to brown, and then with specks of blood.  I could breathe through my nasal passage one day, and not the next, which was odd.  My lungs were clear and ear felt full.  The feeling was similar to when you fly on an airplane with constant ear popping. Then, I noticed my left lymph node seemed swollen.  In my head, I self-diagnosed myself with a severe sinus infection.  I contacted my doctor thinking he would give me an antibiotic, Augmentin, and I would be on my merry little way.  Well, my doctor prescribed the antibiotic and also sent me for a STAT ultrasound.  The ultrasound advised a biopsy of the lymph node which led to the NPC diagnosis.
Other symptoms to NPC include:
  1. Headaches (yes)
  2. Double Vision
  3. Ringing in Ears (yes)
  4. Numbness or Facial Pain
  5. Swollen Lymph Nodes (yes)
  6. Nasal Congestion (yes)
  7. Nose Bleeds (yes)
  8. Sore Throat
  9. Blood in Saliva (yes)
  10. Fatigue (yes)


Treatment depends on the type of cells found in the biopsy.  Epstein Bar Virus and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) are contributing viruses that can lead to Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma.  The different strands of cells determine your specific treatment.  My NPC is linked to the Epstein Bar Virus.
What is the Epstein Bar Virus? The EBV is known as mononucleosis.  Can you believe I never even had mono?  The cells laid dormant in my nasopharynx region.  When you develop mono, your immune system destroys the virus.  In my case, the cells laid dormant and mixed with my DNA.  This caused the cells to divide abnormally which unfortunately caused NPC.  Statistically, 1 out of 100,000 people are diagnosed with NPC.  A very rare cancer in the United States.
Since my NPC is linked with the EPV, I will receive 33 radiation treatments (Monday-Friday) along with 3 rounds of Cisplatin.  Additionally, after this aggressive treatment it will be followed up with 3 rounds of Cisplatin and 5FU chemotherapy sessions.





7 thoughts on “Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma”

  1. I’m sorry you have to go through this. It’s not fair. But you will beat this. Than u will get back to your great life. Good luck. Ruth S.

  2. This is such an interesting blog. I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer at 42 which my doctors said is rare at my age but your type of cancer is extremely rare. You are right when you say cancer does not discriminate. It can happen to any one of us even when the odds are low. Keep up the fight and best of luck to you with your treatments. Thanks again for sharing this information. You are in my thoughts.

    1. Dear Trina,
      I am meeting so many people along this journey. Since I am at Sloane Kettering, I am learning about so many rare caners. It is so heartbreaking to watch everyone fight this battle. The things that causes certain cancers blows my mind. I am sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but we will get through this. My motto daily is #onestepcloser. Even through the bad minutes, I tell myself I am 60 seconds closer than I was before. When you are having a bad moment, think one step closer. Stay strong and positive. You can do it!
      <3 Nik

      1. Thank you Nicholle! Treatment feels like it takes so long but before you know it you will be done with it and moving on with life. It’s a long process but it sounds like you are getting top notch care at a top notch facility. Combine that with your strength and positivity and I know you will beat this!

  3. Hello Nicholle
    First I want to wish you, Craig and your family a very Merry Christmas, I hope the boys had a great holiday.
    I also wanted to thank you for sharing your journey with us all. I believe you have the right attitude to fight and win this battle.
    You are always in my thoughts and prayers.
    God Bless

  4. Nichole, thank you for sharing your blog publicly. It is very informative and interesting to read! Please know so many back in Ottawa are cheering g for a positive outcome for you!
    Best wishes and try to be strong and think positively!

  5. I love your blog. I was diagnosed with a similar but different form of head and neck cancer-mine is much-epidermoid carcinoma, a form of salivary gland cancer. In 2014, I had surgery and 30 sessions of radiation. It was rough, but I hung in there and recovered. No cancer is there. I have dry mouth, which interrupts my sleep, and complicates my eating. I can eat anything but slowly. Anyway, there is a monthly group therapy session at MSKCC which I attend when I can. Anyway if you want to chat about head/neck cancer, let me know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *