Vocal cord paralysis

I am so thankful to have found this board. It is a relief to know that there are others who have faced and overcome esophageal cancer, many of whom have faced far more difficulties than myself. It's also great to be able to get no-nonsense advice from people who have been there.

My MIE was on 2/14/2011. After some complications and setbacks common to many of us, I can say almost 9 months later that my life has largely returned to normal. My strength and stamina are better than before my surgery; I can eat almost anything, I just have to be careful about portion size, and not eat too close to bedtime.

I was stage 1, and they were able to get it all, by removing more than 80% of my esophagus. Thankfully I required no chemo or radiation. I am thankful to be alive, and thankful to all who prayed and rooted for me. In many ways my cancer has been a gift.

The only area that now causes me concern is my voice. I suffered vocal cord paralysis as a result of the surgery, and having been a singer all my life, I am frustrated by the very slow progress. I had a procedure in March by an ear, nose and throat specialist, where my damaged vocal cord was injected with collagen. This helped my speaking voice considerably, although it is still very difficult to be heard in a noisy environment. I was told that vocal cord paralysis can heal on its own, and that it can often take a year or longer,so the specialist was hesitant to do anything permanent. I can appreciate his approach, and I have also been seeing a speech therapist who specializes in helping singers. I have noticed a fair amount of improvement, but I am nowhere near where I would like to be. In the end there is a permanent fix, but I don't know if it will help with singing, rather than just speaking.

If this is as good as I ever get, I am still very thankful to be alive and otherwise healthy. But I was wondering if other members of this board had faced simimlar problems, and if they could offer me any positive (or even negative) outcomes to look forward to.

Many thanks and God bless all of you.
Pete H.


  • Donna70
    Donna70 Member Posts: 852 Member
    I just had surgery for vocal cord paralysis
    Hi Pete,
    Welcome to our board. I had the full esophagectomy and my left vocal cord was left paralyzed and so I was left with a high muppett like voice. It is almost 2 yrs since my surgery and I also had radiation and chemo. But, I just had surgery for the vocal cord problem. I was not a good candidate for injections but I had a wedge placed against my bad vocal cord pushing it more centerline to the good one. My voice is much better and if I hadn't had complications like having mucus come up and had to be suctioned I might have had even better results. I have lung issues which complicated the procedure. But my voice is much better and I can sing not professionally but well enough for an average person. I have had some speech therapy which I am still doing. So I would get a second opinion about whether the wedge surgery could help you esp since you are a singer by profession. There are more posts about this on Cancer Compass. take care and good luck,