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Voice Problems

ToBeGolden's picture
ToBeGolden
Posts: 697
Joined: Aug 2010

I finished 6 weeks of rads for a tumor that was almost totally confined to one vocal cord. On the last 3 days, the vocal cord got blasted, and my voice has become very weak and almost useless. My wife needs to stand right next to me in order to understand what I say. I am just one week, post treatment. All other effects of the radiation, pain and fatigue, are within my expectations and they are starting to slowly improve.

Anyone had voice challenges? Where you told to rest your voice? Any experiences with this challenge? Thanks.

timreichhart
Posts: 195
Joined: Aug 2010

I finished up my radiation treatments about 4 weeks ago and I am still having problems talking and hearing. Only thing I can tell you its going to take time to heel.

charles55's picture
charles55
Posts: 87
Joined: Aug 2010

After three years post treatment, my voice is still coarse. Better now than back then, though. It is more scratchy in the mornings and gets better throughout the day with use. I found the nadir came about two weeks post radiation since that is when the last treatment's effects really hit. I guess it is from edema caused by the radiation. The scarring left behind ruins the lymphatic system drainage so edema can be very long lasting. I miss singing. I have named my vocal range Gravelotto. I tell myself that my voice is not hoarse, it's husky. But the blessing is we still get to speak through our mouth.

ToBeGolden's picture
ToBeGolden
Posts: 697
Joined: Aug 2010

I'm sorry you miss singing. I couldn't carry a tune before my treatment, but I love to listen to music and I try to play classical guitar.

What I am specifically concerned about is: Will my voice likely be good enough so that I can hold a job dealing with the public. Such as a customer service representative. Or a retail sales position. Will I be able to pick up some part-time work this Christmas season?

I know the only "real answer" is wait and see. But it would be comforting to know that some voices which were damaged after therapy to the point that holding such jobs would be impossible, that these voices recovered sufficiently to hold the job. Thanks.

charles55's picture
charles55
Posts: 87
Joined: Aug 2010

I don't think any of us know the exact answer of how much and how long for your case. Different patients at different stages with different doctors using different care plans is a lot of variability. But on an encouraging note, I haven't heard of one person on this board who still have their voice box writing in to say they can no longer talk. If we are anything close to a statistical population, you are going to do well. I am a registered nurse who is both at the bed side and I teach some in the hospital in a classroom setting, and I make it just fine. And I started with no voice at all during most of my radiation and for a while afterwards.

MarineE5
Posts: 756
Joined: Dec 2005

Golden,

It took me about 1 year before my voice returned to what it was before my surgery of Base of Tongue cancer. My family says that I sound like I did before. I do have times that I have a hoarse voice and that seems to happen when I am dry mouthed.

Our throats get dry as well. If I continue to sip water, chew gum, etc., I am pretty good during the day. I have no saliva. Right after the radiation, my voice was just a whisper and my wife did most of the talking for me. My voice improved slowly, but please take in fluids to keep the voice box moist and that may help you.

My Best to You and Everyone Here

Chas616's picture
Chas616
Posts: 11
Joined: Jun 2010

I am one year post treatment for SCC on both vocal cords.My voice has gone from really good to awful to pretty good and back to really good.For the first eight months both cords showed edema and swelling to point where my ENT started to become concerned.I would start the day really good and then get really dry and cough alot.It seemed that one thing fed off the other.One of the technicians who performed a video strobeoscopy on me told me to try throat cote tea and slippery elm.Both seemed to help. You can find them in a good health food or vitamin store. Only use the slippery elm liquid not the pills.Also my ENT told me never to whisper it does more damage than good.If it hurts to speak or you have to strain to talk don't do it.The fact that you can speak means the cords are at least moving.Remember you just finished radiation and it will take a long time before things are back to normal.Dont panic if you have a couple of good days and then have a few problem days.It seemed like it never failed that I would do great for a week or two and then the day before my doctor visit my voice would turn to crap.The bottom line is everybody heals differently and at their own pace.You are just starting the healing process and unfortunately sometimes you have to take three steps forward and two steps back before you get there.Try to stay positive improvement comes slowly.

ratface's picture
ratface
Posts: 1250
Joined: Aug 2009

It took alost 8 months for my voice to return to normal and I did not receive radiation directly on the vocal cords.I think your doing remarkedly well for where you are at and certainly you will be able to perform one of those jobs. Comunication is over 90% body language anyway. Don't rush it and it will conme. I could never sing anyway!

ToBeGolden's picture
ToBeGolden
Posts: 697
Joined: Aug 2010

Thank you for sharing your experiences. My logical brain knows that recovery will take some time, but my emotional brain feels that I should be well now. I had an emotional let down as the last day of treatment passed. I felt that I should be "over it", but I found myself in the middle of the battle. Well the let down has passed, and I am more my normal self. Today, I get to replace a blower wheel on our clothes drier. What fun. Actually, it will be fun. I will start tearing down the drier within the hour, and then I need to wait for the delivery of the blower wheel. Rick.

Greg53's picture
Greg53
Posts: 830
Joined: Apr 2010

Rick,

Starting 2 weeks before end of treatment and going for a total of 4 weeks I totally lost my voice. It would come and go, but I mainly walked around with a board and marker. I started speech therapy at about a month out and that helped tremendously. I'm 5 months out and they tell me my voice is back to normal. When I talk too long with no water it tends to fade still, but overall it's back.

The good thing, my wife and I kick butt playing charades now after all the practice. Glad you're feeling better. Have fun with the dryer.

Greg

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