In 1993 I was diagnosed with throat cancer - nope I never used any tobacco products. Surgery procedure: pulled all teeth; took out cancer on tonsil, tongue and back of nasal passage; rebuilt tongue and mouth using leg muscle; extensive radiation; no chemo.
Excellent surgeons and radiation therapists plus upbeat attitude = able to go back to work, resumed jogging, sang in choir, enjoyed family life. Same old me, except my neck was a bit caved in on one side.
Ten years later. Radiation caught up with me; developed devastating neuropathy in right side of face, neck and shoulder. After two-year struggle was able to manage thanks again to skilled doctors: Neurostimulator implant and Lyrica (very trying time experimenting with multitude of Neurontin-type drugs). Slowed me down some this time; no more singing, walk rather than running, lots of rest, sudden outbursts versus stress... But it’s all good. I did some fiction writing and songwriting as personal therapy – some of it was pretty good!
Lately. Radiation caught up with me again; lost all feeling in my throat. I can do the mechanics of swallowing but there’s no feeling so everything – solid or liquid – everything! – causes me to aspirate. No food or drink by mouth, nothing! No worries: PEG tube – look it up, it’s a great device. But Lord, I miss food and drink. It’s surprising how much of American society is built around food and drink: holidays, social events, family events, commercials…
So, I wrote another book: “It’s Me Again, Lord.” (web site: http://jackteeter.weebly.com) It’s not a pity party, it has a plot and is both funny and poignant but it IS about life as it exists for cancer survivors with limitations.
Every day I wake up and decide whether it’s worth the struggle of keepin’ on keepin’ on. This morning I decided it was.