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Talking and eating

jack55
Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2009

I was diagnosed in Feb. with throat cancer. I underwent 7 weeks of radiation(31 sessions)and 7 chemo sessions once a week. I decided against the feeding tube and have been able to swallow throughout the treatments. I am 7 weeks past my last radiation treatment, the mucous has subsided, I'm less tired and sleeping better through the night. My throat continues to be a problem. Although I am able to eat SOFT foods, it still hurts to swallow and it also bothers me to talk a length. My doctors say everyone heals differently, but I'm wondering how before my throat improves.

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

jack, I don't know if your doctor mentioned this, but radiation continues to cook for quite some time after the last treatment. How long depends upon a number of things, as I understand it, including quantity and frequency of treatments, dosage, and area of impact.

Your radiation doctor may be able to verify this and tell you how long, more or less, the rads continued to do their work.

The importance of that little tidbit of information is only to suggest that your 'real' end of rads 'treatment' actually occured sometime AFTER the last official dosage, potentially as long as a month or six weeks after, or so I have been told in this joint. (The item about cooking beyond the last treatment I received from reliable medical sources; the length of time, however, I received in here, and as such, that is perhaps less reliable.)

In any event, your ability to swallow should come back to you, although your doctor is right in that each case is different.

Personally, as a result of surgery and radiation some of my internal scarring is permanent and it seems a smaller entry point to my esophagus may be something I have to live with although dilation has not been completely ruled out. This means that while I can eat solid foods, it is still difficult to get down large chunks like everybody else does. This slows down eating a LOT. It DOES beat the alternative, however.

The sore throat WILL go away, I would bet within the month. If not, in fact, I would go back to the doc and let him know you want some testing done.

Congratulations on getting through the hardest part. Now you have to have a little bit of patience, and start trying very hard to pick away at gradually more solid items, perhaps finely diced tomatoes, onions, peppers, things of that sort. Maybe pretzels and crackers, things that are a bit less 'soft' but which you can nibble down to manageable sizes.

I know that despite my rambling on, this is really not an answer to your question. I wish I had a concrete answer for you.

Take care,

Joe

jack55
Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2009

Thanks for the reply Joe and JK. Its comforting and informative to speak with someone whos walked the walk. As many times as I've seen ALL my doctors, I never knew that the rad continued to cook for another 4 to 6 weeks. Patience has not always been one of my better attributes but I'm more than willing to change in this case. I'm able to swallow with mild discomfort and my wife is learning to understand my grunts in the mean time. Thanks again for your replys and if there is one thing I have learned through all this, you are not alone.

jkinobay's picture
jkinobay
Posts: 247
Joined: May 2007

I think what you describe as your progress is if anything, slightly better than what one might call "average". Soccerfreaks is right on as usual in saying the Rads continue to be active for some time. My Rad Oncol told me it typically is 4-6 weeks.

Another point Soccf made that is excellent is that patience is the new order of the day. In my case, I did not see quantifiable progress on a daily or even weekly basis. More like monthly and definately quarterly. Your body has been through a tremendous assault and we all heal and bounce back differently. I'll also mention that my ENT who has considerable experience with HNC said that in most cases patients continue to improve as much as 24-30 months post-treatment. So hang in there......the progress will be gradual and take some time but you will eventually enjoy a "NEW NORMAL", which may be different from your previous "normal", but something you will gladly live with.

For your throat pain, you may want to ask your Doc about Roxicet syrup. It helped me a lot when the pain was at its worst. Yours may have already improved to the point where that drastic a med might not be indicated though.

For your voice, I completely lost mine for the last 2 weeks of Rads and the better part of the 2 weeks after. My "friends" thought it was a blessing and even today say that look back on my "Mumbles" phase as the good old days. HaHa.

Your voice will return, your taste will improve, your saliva too. Hang in there....JK

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