CSN Login
Members Online: 10

Laryngeal Cancer T2N0

ToBeGolden's picture
ToBeGolden
Posts: 696
Joined: Aug 2010

From the staging, you know that I have a "mild" cancer. It is almost totally confined to a vocal cord. I was lucky in that severe hoarseness was the presenting symptom. I also had ear aches and an almost constant cough.

I am finishing 6 weeks of radiation; I have 3 treatments left. I opted for a milder pain medicine, and have been able to maintain my weight. I can drink water and eat soft foods like yogurt. I also use Gluucerna Shakes, which is much like Ensure but formulated for diabetics.

My head/mouth has not been radiated so I've been spared the mouth sores.

As soon as the treatment started, I began finding ways to reduce pain. These tricks will be different for every individual; so you will need to find what works for you. Among the things are:
+ Everything is near body temperature.
+ I heat bottled water as if it were a baby bottle.
+ Very small bites. It may take 45 minutes to eat a container of yogurt.
+ I take the pain medicine every four hours.
+ I eat drink for 1 1/2 hours after the pain medicine.
+ Then I try not to swallow at all.
+ I spit my saliva into a tissue or paper towel.
+ I cut medication tablets into very small bits. One tablet I divide 8 times.

Before treatment started, I bought some cheap shirts with open collars (all under $10). The creams will gum up the shirts, so I didn't want to wear anything "good".

There are two areas of pain: in the throat from swallowing and the other from the burnt neck.
The burn neck is treated with creams provided by my doctor.

I never go more than six hours without pain medicine. I eat something every time I take the pain medicine. I also drink at least 6 ounces of water with each dose of medication. This has allowed me to have near normal saliva. (And the fact that my mouth has not been radiated.)

I am posting this so that interested parties, who are just entering head and neck radiation, may get a feeling for the full spectrum of effects. Everyone is unique, and everyone's cancer is unique.

When you start radiation treatment (especially if you are lucky enough that chemo is not involved), you have 2 to 4 weeks to figure out what will work for you. Once the pain gets significant, you probably will not have any desire to experiment.

And my oncology team has been terrific in explaining the medical options open to me. And helping to decide on the correct medications. But they did not have much to say about the little "tricks" I used to get through the treatment. This is perhaps because the "tricks" will be different for each individual.

I wish everyone the best. RicK

kimmygarland's picture
kimmygarland
Posts: 313
Joined: Aug 2009

Rick, sounds like you are doing ok, and have figured a few things out. Thanks for sharing. My husband had hypopharyngeal cancer (T3N1M0 - I think), went through chemo/rads last year and now looks to have recurrence. Biopsy tomorrow.

Good luck to you as you finish treatment and begin to recover.

ToBeGolden's picture
ToBeGolden
Posts: 696
Joined: Aug 2010

Thank you for your kind words. Hope your husband's biopsy turns out to be negative. But it is a delaying game for all of us. We have to try to keep going regardless of what nature throws at us.
Rick.

kimmygarland's picture
kimmygarland
Posts: 313
Joined: Aug 2009

Thanks for the well wishes. Take care.

Chewy2009
Posts: 7
Joined: Aug 2010

I have just started radiation treatments. I have had 2 treatment and 31 to go. Needless to say I feel great at this point. Did you work while you were having the treatments? I have alerted my HR department, but do not know if i need to plan for time off.

Greg53's picture
Greg53
Posts: 848
Joined: Apr 2010

Chewy,

Welcome to the our little family here. You've come to the right place to learn and get support. You might want to start a new thread and introduce yourself. You can ask some questions and get some advice on just starting out.

To answer your question about time off, it varies person to person. Some have worked all the way thru treatments(very few) while others needed a long extended period of time off (very few also). I would guess the majority took off between 3 - 6 months. I took off a total of 8 weeks. 3 weeks after surgery (tonsillectomy and rad neck dissection) and 5 at the end of treatments. I had 7 weeks of rad with concurrent chemo (Cisplatin). Like I said everyone is different but I would assume you might have to take some time off as it gets near the end of treatments some of the side effects really kick in.

Good luck and stay on board here, lots to learn from the folks here.

Positive thoughts!
Greg

Chewy2009
Posts: 7
Joined: Aug 2010

Thanks Greg! My cancer is very mild and radiations is the only treatment planned. I am very lucky - Stage 1 right vocal cord. I hate to hear the pain and frustrations of what so many have been through, but it is comforting to know that I am not alone and truely I am very fortunate.

ToBeGolden's picture
ToBeGolden
Posts: 696
Joined: Aug 2010

I also received ONLY radiation, 31 sessions. I have been (retired) made redundant (to use the British term I love) due to the economy.

I have just completed my series of radiation on August 25. I would have been able to work for the first 3 weeks (possibly 4). At that time, I needed some medication for pain. I took the "mild stuff" - hydorcodone and acetometaphine. Even so, I became very drowsy, and the number of hours I slept jumped from 6/night to 11/night. More importantly, I have become very clumsy: breaking glasses and dishes, even knocking a bottle of salad dressing off the shelf in a store and breaking it. Very embarrassing. So it will also depend whether you handle power tools etc on your job.

Both the drowsiness and the clumsiness get worse week by week. They do not sneak up on you. It's not like one day you wake up and can't do anything.

Everything gets worse every week. And it gets worse in the first recovery week after the treatment was over.

I have been able to maintain nutrition and hydration quite well. Lost 2 pounds during the 7 weeks of treatment, and lost 2 more pounds during the 1 week of recovery.

When I had my last radiation treatment, I thought: OK, I won, I finished the race, without too my bruises. But the truth seems to be that I barely out of the starting block.

Also, my neck is revolting. Anyone who would look at it will have the tendency to barf. You might be able to wear a tight color, buttoned up, depending upon your job.

Sorry to paint such a gloomy picture. I think the healing process will be charted in weeks and months / not hours and days.

On a positive note. I have 2 peers that survived head and neck radiation (plus chemo) and were able to remain employable. They did not work right alongside me, so I did not notice how long they were off. I will post about once a week to let everyone know how I am recovering.

RicK

ToBeGolden's picture
ToBeGolden
Posts: 696
Joined: Aug 2010

Use the early, almost pain-free, weeks to find what will reduce pain for you. This ranges from clothes to food to cough drops. I couldn't use the cough drops that were my favorite before treatment, and had to switch to one that I can tolerate.

I also found that everything I eat or drink (including water) must be near body temperature. And I need to eat in very small bites.

Also pills (medications) need to be chopped up. I cut my 1000 mg Metformin tablet (for diabetes) into 16 pieces (really). And since I can only take such very small bites, it might take 30 - 45 minutes to eat 2 scrambled eggs. It will take 30 minutes to drink an 8 oz. glass of water. Really.

By the way, I'm not sure that being forewarned is necessarily a good thing. And I am sorry if I am providing a dis-service to you. Rick.

Chewy2009
Posts: 7
Joined: Aug 2010

I am a very realistic, to the point type of person. I feel better having some idea of what real people are going through. Thank you and please keep me posted on your recovery. I wish you well and hope you are feeling better quickly!

ToBeGolden's picture
ToBeGolden
Posts: 696
Joined: Aug 2010

I should comment there is a positive side. I am able to enjoy life almost every single day. Usually it is some little thing. For example, there is a newborn kitten (about 5 pounds) that has taken to stalking my dog (a 90 pound Golden Retriever - the Avatar). My dog would never attack anything, so the kitten is safe. But it is really funny seeing the kitten pretend to be the Great Hunter.

There are other things. A 4-year old (neighbor's child) hugging my dog.

I bring this up because there are conditions which make it impossible for a person to enjoy anything. But this is not me experience with the head and neck cancer. Life is still fun; or at least there are moments each day which are fun.

And although my stamina is not great, I can complete some small project each day: Yard work or house work or repair. I need to repair our clothes drier. Because I am not mechanically gifted, this will take a couple of attempts. Well I was able to take it apart, figure out what was wrong and put it back together. I need to travel 20 miles for a part. If I were well, I would have just gotten the part and completed the repair. But with the fatigue, I put off getting the part for another day. But the point is that I can work around the house for a number of hours each day. This is the status the first week post treatment and I expect that my stamina will improve.

If I had not been retired by the economy, I would be able to work at a reduced pace. Some employers would appreciate the effort, and other employers would harp on you for not pulling your full weight. The choice of when to return to work will depend upon how well the employer treats his employees as much as the recovery from treatment.

Chewy2009
Posts: 7
Joined: Aug 2010

I have had nine treatments and my voice sounds terrible today. My throat feels like I have a golf ball in it and it is beginning to hurt. I have been sleeping a bit more, but have still been able to attend my sons' football games, so not doing too bad. It is still unbelievable to me that I was diagnosed with cancer. My friends and family have been great so I am indeed a very lucky woman.

Subscribe with RSS
About Cancer Society

The content on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions.

Copyright 2000-2015 © Cancer Survivors Network