kenw's Journey with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer

Survivor: Head & Neck/Throat Cancer

Patient Info: Finished active treatment less than 5 years ago, Diagnosed: over 5 years ago, Male, Age: 72, Stage IV

  1. 1
    • kenw
    • Experience with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer
    almost 5 years ago
    kenw's Avatar

    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    I felt absolutely no ill effects from the chemo, other than loosing a few strands of hair.

    Easy to Do: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  2. 2
    • kenw
    • Experience with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer
    almost 5 years ago
    kenw's Avatar

    Diagnosed

    Oh No

    I had a slight sore throat that I thought was associated with a normal cold. When it did not go away or other cold symptoms did not manifest themselves, I went to my PCP. He placed me in a course of antibiotics which did dothing to alleviate the sore throat. I was referred to an EENT specialist. He 'scoped me and, TA DAH!, there it was, a nickel-sized tumor on the base of my tongue. A biopsy was performed a few days late and the diagnosis was confirmed - squamous cell carcinoma, stage 4. Not a complete shock, as I had been a "smoker" for almost 50 years, having quit ~2 years earlier. My options were few. Surgery would entail removal of my tongue and associated tissues - NOT an option at all to me! Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy were the only options left.

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  3. 3
    • kenw
    • Experience with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer
    almost 5 years ago
    kenw's Avatar

    External radiation

    Radiation

    The pre treatment required the prophylactic removal of all my lower molars due to bone damage that would occur during radiation treatment. I was miserable because ANY treatment couldn't start until my jaw healed from the oral surgery and I envisioned the tomor just growing exponentially. Then I had to be fitted with a hard plastic mesk "mask" to immobilize my head, neck and shoulders during radiation. I did not know I was claustrophobic until they snapped the mask over me to the x-ray table. I lost it - completely. Total screaming, thrashing about, crying panic. Nothing like I had ever experienced before. From that point on, I was heavily sedated during radiation treatments - all 35 of them - Monday thru Friday for seven weeks.

    Painless Experience: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Disagree
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  4. 4
    • kenw
    • Experience with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer
    almost 5 years ago
    kenw's Avatar

    Other

    Side Effects

    Chemo: none to speak of Radiation: . Second degree burns internal to the tumor site and adjacent tissues/musculature, and extrnally to the ftont and sides of my throat . Constipation . Weight loss . Taste change/loss . Swelling/edema . Swallowing difficulties . No saliva ("dry mouth") . Pain, nausea and vomiting from the pain . Mood and memory changes . Fatigue . No appetite (nutritional supplements via PEG tube) . etc .

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  5. 5
    • kenw
    • Experience with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer
    almost 5 years ago
    kenw's Avatar

    Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO)

    Other Care

    Due to the natural healing process along with the radiation, a portion of my jawbone became exposed as the gums receded at the oral surgery site. To have this problem rectified I required more oral surgery. Because the capillaries in the jaw bone were almost non-existant, HBO was prescribed to jumpstart the regrowth and hasten post op healing. Forty "dives" in total. For mor info, google " virginia mason hyperbaric ".

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  6. 6
    • kenw
    • Experience with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer
    almost 5 years ago
    kenw's Avatar

    My mind/Sense of Humor

    Loss

    My spouse ays I don't smile or make her laugh any more. That hurts.

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  7. 7
    • kenw
    • Experience with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer
    almost 5 years ago
    kenw's Avatar

    Decision Point

    This person has yet to add any details about this experience.

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  8. 8
    • kenw
    • Experience with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer
    almost 5 years ago
    kenw's Avatar

    Finished treatment

    Celebration

    This person has yet to add any details about this experience.

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  9. 9
    • kenw
    • Experience with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer
    almost 5 years ago
    kenw's Avatar

    Follow up tests

    Decision Point

    After consulting and examination by my EENT specialist, I/we have decided to have a few post treatment tests performed: head/neck/upper chest CT scan, PET scan and a biopsy of the site fo the former tumor along with a "look around", while the EENT guy is in there.

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