Cancer in throat

 

My husband was diagnosed with a cancerous growth in his throat , said it was to the left of his voice box.  The biopsy showed there was one lymp node affected.  Dr. told us he would treat it with 7 weeks (total of 35) of radiation with 7 chemo treatments and the chemo would be mild but was doing the chemo to accelerate the radiation.    I asked doctor if the treatments were to shrink grown or cure.  He said right away to cure.  I asked what stage was the cancer and he said well if I were to stage it I would say a 2 because of the one lymp node involved.  I asked if he felt it was 50, 60, 70 percent sure to cure and he said 98 percent which was greatly encouraging to me, I just hope he wasn't giving me false hope.

He said my husband might lose his voice during treatment and it was possible to lose his hair.  He told us the week 4 the treatments would become harder and be more painful but once treatments ended it probably would take a few weeks before he could eat normally.  His advise was the beginning was to keep swallowing even if it hurt.

 

well he was right treatments became painful and hard to swallow in week 4 but my husband kept swallowing his pills, eating scrambled eggs and drinking water and boost protein drink.  by week 5 he could hardly swallow except his pills, watermelon and sips of water.  he lost so much weight quickly from week 4 to week 6 (but still forcing his pills down and sips of water.  doctor made the decision to put in a peg tube for a couple of months to keep my husband better nourished but for him to keep swallowing and take whatever he can eat by mouth.

He has been taking ensure by tube.  He also is  extra saline hydration at the cancer instiute following his radiation treatments at the hospital.

 

He has only 3 radiation treatments left to take and we can hardly wait for the burning to stop.  He spits up mucus and blood daily which they said is normal.

I am constantly nervous and so sorry for him at night listening to him gag and spit up.  This has been the worse nightmare of my life and I am sure his as well.  He tries not to complain but I see the pain and hurt in his eyes.

 

Sorry to be rambling on and venting but I have no one else to tell.

 

My question is does anyone feel from what the doctor told us these treatments will eliminate his cancer?  Am I being too optimisic by what the doctor told us.  His term "if I were to stage it" like he didn't stage it because its not bad.  I guess I am getting scared now worrying about the outcome.

He said the chemo and radiation still continue working a month after treatments end.  They will be doing a PET scan something later.

 

Guess I am hoping someone else will reasure me or give me their opinion.

 

 

 

 

Comments

  • MrsBD
    MrsBD Member Posts: 615 Member
    Cancer in throat

    One year ago this week I asked my oncologist if I was going to survive Stage 4 BOT cancer. She replied that they were going for a cure. I had chemo and radiation, lost 40 pounds, and felt pretty miserable for a few months after treatment ended. Since then, I've had two PET scans and several scopes. Each one has shown no evidence of cancer. There are lots of others on this site with similar stories, so yes, there is every reason to be optimistic! By the way, that gagging really scared my husband, too. I used Mucinex and a humidifier at night which helped. That side effect started to improve a few weeks after radiation ended. Congratulations on making it through treatment! 

  • CivilMatt
    CivilMatt Member Posts: 4,722 Member
    caregiver sounds normal too

     

    liz105,

     

    Welcome to the H&N forum, where much of the good advice we have, it sound like you already know.

    Your doctor sounded quite right on treatment, side effects, cure, etc.

    Many of us went through the cough and  gag and spit and choked stage.   I always had a half a gallon of salt and soda water solution at the ready and the utility room sink where I could have my privacy.

    Currently, there is no reason to doubt your husband treatment plan.  It’s hard, it might get harder, but it will for sure get better.

    It just takes time lots of time.

    I fiddled around with food for seven months, drinking mainly smoothies and protein drinks, before I got back to (half way) normal eating.

    Now at 3y 4m post I am fairly normal, eating whatever I like, but with lots of water, pop, milk or ice tea.

    I lost 43 pounds. 

    Good luck, 

    Matt

     

  • phrannie51
    phrannie51 Member Posts: 4,716
    Welcome Liz....

    To this little home on the internet.....there are many MANY smart, supportive, and kind people here to help you and your hubby get through this treatment.  My Dr. pretty much told me the same thing.....I had stage III NPC (behind the nose), and he said....you'll die of something, but it won't be from this.  My treatment was similar to your husbands....35 rads, and I had 3 large dose chemo's every 3 weeks rather than one lesser dose per week. 

    Your husband's Dr. sounds to me to be not only up to date on the treatment, but seems to have a real awareness of the need to swallow, yet wasn't adverse to offering up a feeding tube when things got tough....as long as your man swallows something everyday....water, milk, whatever.....he's going to finish the treatment up, and start feeling better a couple weeks after treatment.  Don't get me wrong, recovery comes in weeks and months, not in days...but he'll be able to look back and see that yes....things are getting better.

    Come here often and ask questions, vent, whatever you need to do.....this is a great place to let things out.

    p

  • wmc
    wmc Member Posts: 1,804
    Welcome to the H&N Group

    Welcome to the Head & Neck group. Sorry you need to be here, but it is the best place for you to be at. It sounds like the tumor is small and because it went to a lymph gland he put it up to a 2.  My tumor was 3cc x 2.5 cc and just above my vocal cords. I was T4; N2; M0 before surgery but it was reduced to T3; N0; Mo as it did not go to the lymph glands as they thought. No I had pre-existing problems so I had to have my treatment different. I have bad lungs and would not make it through radiation or surgery with normal treatment. I would say your doctor seems to be right on with his prognosis. It is said that the treatment for head & neck is the second worse you can go through. But the survival is really good. AS for venting, this is the best place for that as well. WE have been there and do understand. We have caregivers and paitents as well here so beleave me when I say we do understand what you both are going through. It is a tough road to go down and just take it day by day. It will take time and he will get through this and get better. Just have to have fath and trust.

    Bill

  • debbiejeanne
    debbiejeanne Member Posts: 3,102 Member
    liz, his chance of beating

    liz, his chance of beating this is good.  there are many of us here who won the battle.  some  were told they wouldn't make it and are here 8 and 13 yrs later.  so do your best to stay positive and know he will come through this.   you can at least now see the light at the end of the tunnel.  3 rad tx left, that is fantastic!  then he can start the healing phase.  i will pray for you both and please let us know when he rings the bell so we can do our happy dance!

    God bless you,

    dj

  • MarineE5
    MarineE5 Member Posts: 1,030 Member
    Not much to add

    The posts above pretty much summed it up. It is a rough road to travel, and the light at the end of the tunnel is near. Your husband will now feel the full effects of all the treatments for the next several weeks. That time frame can last anywhere from 4-8 weeks. As P-51 stated, measure improvements in weeks verses days. Each person recovers differently, so he may recover faster than someone else here.

    As stated, swallowing and hydration are very important so keep doing that.

    My Best to Both of You and Everyone Here

  • littlemisskitty
    littlemisskitty Member Posts: 35
    Cancer

    My mom has oral cancer. They did surgery to remove it which they said brought it down to a 50% chance of it returning. Then he said radiation would bring it down to around 75 and chemo will bring it to around 95% or so. So similiar odds to what you were talking about so I definitely believe them. From what the doctor told us, no one dies from treatment. Treatment is hard and it might feel impossible at the time, but an end of the treatment is near. (We only just started treatment. My mom has finished her first week of radiation and has had two chemo treatments with 6 more radiations to go). He said what people die from is spreading so as long as you do radiation and chemo, it shouldn't spread so that gives us all hope.

    As for staging, I was told in head and neck cancers it goes by location spreading and size. So it depends on how big the tumor area was. In my mom's case, she had a 5 cm tumor in her mouth so that made her stage 3 automatically. Then when it returned and since it had spread to the opposite side of her neck instead leaching to the same side, it made her stage 4. We have all hope that she will recover from radiation and chemo and be cancer free. The doctors really seem to have this hope also and keep reminding us that the end is near. Staging in head and neck doesn't really matter much from what I gathered. As long as it's localized, it's treatbale. If you have any doubts look at all the people on this forum that have survived and continue to help others. You sound as though you are on the end of treatment which is good. Then after treatment stops, recovery can start. 

    This forum has taught me the results of thinking positive. As long as you keep the person in treatment positive, it will help them. So think positive. Trust the doctors. Keep giving your husband positive thoughts and smiles and he will get through this. Focus on the good things that will come. This is only a bump in the long road ahead and hopefully it will be a good long road ahead. Keep us updated on his recovery as it happens. 

  • hwt
    hwt Member Posts: 2,328 Member

    Cancer

    My mom has oral cancer. They did surgery to remove it which they said brought it down to a 50% chance of it returning. Then he said radiation would bring it down to around 75 and chemo will bring it to around 95% or so. So similiar odds to what you were talking about so I definitely believe them. From what the doctor told us, no one dies from treatment. Treatment is hard and it might feel impossible at the time, but an end of the treatment is near. (We only just started treatment. My mom has finished her first week of radiation and has had two chemo treatments with 6 more radiations to go). He said what people die from is spreading so as long as you do radiation and chemo, it shouldn't spread so that gives us all hope.

    As for staging, I was told in head and neck cancers it goes by location spreading and size. So it depends on how big the tumor area was. In my mom's case, she had a 5 cm tumor in her mouth so that made her stage 3 automatically. Then when it returned and since it had spread to the opposite side of her neck instead leaching to the same side, it made her stage 4. We have all hope that she will recover from radiation and chemo and be cancer free. The doctors really seem to have this hope also and keep reminding us that the end is near. Staging in head and neck doesn't really matter much from what I gathered. As long as it's localized, it's treatbale. If you have any doubts look at all the people on this forum that have survived and continue to help others. You sound as though you are on the end of treatment which is good. Then after treatment stops, recovery can start. 

    This forum has taught me the results of thinking positive. As long as you keep the person in treatment positive, it will help them. So think positive. Trust the doctors. Keep giving your husband positive thoughts and smiles and he will get through this. Focus on the good things that will come. This is only a bump in the long road ahead and hopefully it will be a good long road ahead. Keep us updated on his recovery as it happens. 

    Liz

    It is beatable....stay positive. Ensure Plus has 100+ additional calories than regular Ensure. If your husband is having difficulty talking, I suggest a write board and dry erase marker from the dollar store or much better yet, an LCD Boogie Board...got mine at Sam's for $20.

  • Elaineh
    Elaineh Member Posts: 21
    Your husband

    Hi Liz.  Welcome to the site.  As others have said, you Dr. Seems right on point.  My tumor was 2cm x2cm, and was just adjacent to larynx.  I also had three involved lymph nodes. I had 2 course of triple drug chemo then 35 radiation treatments with weekly chemo.  I lost my voice briefly during treatment and was able to swallow and eat throughout treatment.  My tumor completely disappeared and PET scans have been negative since finishing treatment June of 2014.  

     

    I lost 45 lbs after treatment, lost my voice for about six months, and have some swallowing dysfunction so have a feeding tube again.  As others have said, everyone recovers differently and it's important to remain positive.  Your husband will find a new "normal", and adapt to it.  Good luck and look forward to hearing from you again.

  • avisemi
    avisemi Member Posts: 172
    Liz,
    you got great responses.

    Liz,

    you got great responses. Just wanted to say hi and send you love and support. It is hard to be the wife. As you say, you can see the pain even when they are being such good sports about it.  My husband started induction chemo on Sept 16th 2014.  I remember because it was my birthday. He had stage 4.  The road is horrible but your husband can make it.  Claim it, say it out loud as many times as you need to: my husband will be cured, my husband will be cured, my husband will be cured. There is power in the words that we say out loud.