Dealing with Cancer (Part 1)

Last year, May 2011 – just about 12 months to the day, I was diagnosed with cancer of the throat. The scenario began with pain in the throat and difficulty with swallowing, I ignored the symptoms for a few weeks until I realised the soreness was getting worse and wasn’t going to go away on it’s own.

Teddington Lock

One weekend while I was in Twickenham, not my usual residence, the pain got particularly bad so I decided to go to the hospital at Teddington and try get some anti-biotics and something to relieve the pain. I saw the doctor and he gave me some medicine but advised me to go to my own GP and get an appointment to see a specialist (he didn’t think that it was an infection).

Off I trotted the next available day to see my GP, who mis-diagnosed a couple of times, then eventually referred me to see a specialist at Charing Cross Hospital. From this appointment it was a couple of weeks until tests revealed I had cancer of the throat.

Not good I thought, the prognosis was a 50% chance of clearing the tumour with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It was stage 4 cancer and had been missed for a while by my GP until it had developed into something quite large and painful. Although the tumour only began to manifest itself with the recent pain and difficulty in swallowing, I had been suffering symptoms due to the cancer for about 18 months, tiredness, falling asleep, exhaustion, nausea and generally feeling very-unwell. My GP explained the symptoms as lack of exercise and depression, I was prescribed anti-depressants and told to exercise more.

So the treatment began last June, the first stage of the treatment was a stay in hospital for a week undergoing intensive chemotherapy. I had a dedicated team assigned to me, Consultant, Cancer Nurse, Dietician and a number of other professionals. That week was ok until the final day when I couldn’t

Twickenham River

stop vomiting and I felt very ill. Then it was off home and a 2 week rest until the next round of Chemo.

Over the next month, there were two more chemo sessions and I had a tube inserted into my stomach, the reason for the tube I was told was because I would be unable to eat later during the treatment. At this stage of the treatment the tumour had shrunk and the pain had gone. The chemo had made me ill, sickness, nausea, hair-loss, weightloss and an overwhelming feeling of horribleness that was bad. I was feeling somewhat hopeful though as the tumour was smaller and I could eat.

Next to come was more chemotherapy and the beginning of the radiotherapy. This was to last for 7 weeks, the treatment was done as an outpatient. I had to arrive at the hospital at 9:00am on Chemo days, leaving at 5:00pm, during the chemo I would visit the radiology department for my daily radiotherapy. The chemotherapy wasn’t continuous, out of the 7 weeks, just 10 days were chemotherapy conbined with radiotherapy and the rest of the weeks was radiotherapy only. The treatment ended beginning of September 2011.

The tube inserted into my stomach through the abdomen wall was now to become the main method for me to feed, I could no longer swallow and I had to feed with liquid directly into the stomach with a syringe into the tube. Usually high nutritious drinks, “Ensure” was the main sustenance. I fed like this for 6 months, unable to eat solids or swallow, I lost 16 kilos and became very weak.

I will split this story into a second part, otherwise it will stretch far too long and look unsightly.

To be continued…….

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