A letter from Bryan BOUDET
My name is Bryan Boudet. My wife Shonda and I have been married for almost nineteen years and are lifelong residents of the Baton Rouge area. Shonda is the Owner of Always Best Care Senior Services that provides non-medical, in-home care for seniors in the Baton Rouge community. Since my diagnosis, she has been applying her caregiving heart to me on a full-time basis . I am a licensed engineer, and the Business Development Manager for Ward Vessel and Exchanger Corp. We have two teenage sons, James (14) and Cooper (13). James is wrapping up his 8thgrade year at St George and is excited to begin Catholic High this Fall. Cooper is looking forward to finishing 7thgrade and starting his 8th grade year also at St George.
In late Summer of 2018, I began having some symptoms (difficulty swallowing, severe laryngitis) that presented like the gastric/acid reflux I had about ten years ago. Before these symptoms presented, I was a healthy 44 year-old that hadn’t been to the doctor in 8 years! A few additional symptoms occurred – headaches, jaw/cheek pain and tongue atrophy – that led my ENT to order an MRI. The MRI revealed a tumor in the left side of neck, and a biopsy and a PET scan confirmed that it was malignant. The diagnosis was an undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma tumor.
The tumor was very aggressive. It collapsed my left carotid artery (miraculously the right carotid compensated for the blood flow to my brain and I avoided a stroke), and it severely damaged my left cranial nerves 10 and 12. If fact, the damage to my cranial nerve 10 (the vagus nerve) required me to have a pacemaker surgically installed the same day I began radiation. After completing my twenty-two rounds of radiation treatment in November, I crashed – severe difficulty swallowing, fatigue/exhaustion and no interest in eating and drinking. I ended up in the hospital due to malnourishment and dehydration, and a PEG feeding tube was placed in my stomach. On January 2, 2019, I had surgery to remove the radiated tumor from my neck. It was an eight-hour surgery that was successful in removing the tumor but also had to remove sections of the aforementioned cranial nerves. This has left me unable to swallow and with a very weak voice due to a paralyzed left vocal cord.
In early February, I was admitted to hospital again due to dehydration and severe headaches. It was during this visit that we found out the sarcoma had metastasized to my brain and my lungs. Thankfully, there was just one spot on my brain, and I had a gamma knife radiosurgery to eradicate it. The lung nodules are fairly stable right now, and we will continue to monitor them along with brain every few months via CT scans and MRIs, until a time that chemotherapy is appropriate to consider. I am now under the care of Sarcoma Hematology Oncologist at MD Anderson in Houston and have also completed an intense “Swallowing Boot Camp Therapy” that MD Anderson offers.
While this journey has not been fun and has been met with many setbacks (including most recently a couple of seizures and a probable malignant thyroid tumor), we have also experienced many, many wonderful things that we wouldn’t have otherwise. From the overwhelming amount of love and support from our family, friends, acquaintances and strangers to the strengthening of our Faith and Spirituality, we have grown so much as individuals and a family. AND I am UTTERLY blessed to have an amazing and selfless caregiver in my wife, Shonda. With God on our side, our unbelievable network of support, a healthy attitude and new focus on nutrition, we look forward beating the C-Word and to many years of paying that love and support forward!
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge HIM, and HE will make your paths straight.