McC12's Journey with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer

Survivor: Head & Neck/Throat Cancer

Patient Info: Finished active treatment more than 5 years ago, Diagnosed: about 12 years ago, Male, Age: 48, Stage IV

  1. 1
    • McC12
    • Experience with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer
    over 4 years ago
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    Diagnosed

    Oh No

    I found a lump on the side of my neck after losing weight from a diet I was on. I immediately went to my family physician and she immediately referred me to an Ear Nose and Throat specialist. Once I met with him we had a PET scan and a needle biopsy done. It came back positive for cancer.

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  2. 2
    • McC12
    • Experience with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer
    over 4 years ago
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    Surgery

    Procedure or Surgery

    I went in for surgery and they removed 43 lymph nodes from the left side of my neck. As it turned out 3 of them were malignant and they found that the primary source of the cancer was my left tonsil. It was a stage IV cancer. So they removed both of my tonsils as well. I had an incision made from the back of my ear to my adams apple that required 24 staples. It took one month for me to recover from the surgery.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  3. 3
    • McC12
    • Experience with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer
    over 4 years ago
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    External radiation

    Radiation

    After recovering from my surgery, I was placed on a radiation schedule that was to last Monday through Friday for the next 8 weeks. The procedure required me to lie on my back and then they molded a white mesh mask over my face. Think of putting a tennis raquet over your face and then press it down so that your face streches your profile into the strings. They then put the mask on my face and bolted it to the table to imobilize my head. Each treatment lasted no more than 15 minutes. Over the course of 8 weeks the radiation took its toll. It burned my throat from the inside out which over time prevented me from eating solid foods due to the pain. I had to drink meal replacement shakes. Needless to say my 6'00" body went from 225lbs to 169lbs. They were threatening to put a feeding tube in my stomache due to my weightloss, but luckily I talked them out of it.

    Painless Experience: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  4. 4
    • McC12
    • Experience with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer
    over 4 years ago
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    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    Along with the 8 weeks of radiation, they had me do 3 Chemotherapy sessions with Cisplantinim (SP?). After the first session, I felt fine. After the second session I was kind of weak, but 2 days later had my first and only hole in one!!! The 3rd session had to be postponed due to my white blood cell count being too low. Eventually we got the third session completed and I was through with it all!!!

    Easy to Do: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  5. 5
    • McC12
    • Experience with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer
    over 4 years ago
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    Mouth dryness

    Side Effects

    The radiation treatment left me with a few side effects. It killed the hair follicles where they beamed the radiation on my neck. And I have about 60% saliva production because it damaged some of my saliva glands. These are long term side effects. The dry mouth can be helped with medication and the hair loss is permanent. Short term after the treatments, I could not taste food for a good 6 months. My tastebuds on my tongue were effected short term by the radiation and my mouth had to regenerate new ones. I have a nice scar from the surgery, but my ENT did a great job of hiding it in the crease in my neck. I was told that the Chemotherapy could have made me steril, but my 3rd son, Brayden was born on in 2007. He is a gift from God!!

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  6. 6
    • McC12
    • Experience with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer
    over 4 years ago
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    I celebrate every day!

    Celebration

    I celebrate every day that I have survived. After my experience, I realized that life is too short not to do the things that you want to do. So, I joined my local country club so that I could enjoy the sport of golf that I love so much. I even changed careers and am now working as a financial advisor helping people to plan for their and their family's financial futures. I am so thankful for my survival and the many Dr's that helped me through this. But more importantly, I am thankful for my 3 beautiful boys, my father, my friends who stuck with me every step of the way, and now, my beautiful fiance. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. One of the reasons for my survival was for me to be able to have her come into my life. I love her so much.

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