Head and neck cancer

proof Member Posts: 1

Hi, My husband has head and neck cancer with an unknown primary.  He just had a feeding tube put in today.  Tomorrow he goes for surgery to pull some teeth, because they are going to radiate his head and neck.  Everything has taken so long to come about.  In a couple of weeks he starts both radiation and chemotherapy.  I am so scared.  We have been married for over 25 years.  It seems that I am the only one to take care of him, even the children are being selfish right now, i do not know if it is because they do not want to deal with it or not.  On top of that I am taking care of his aging mother who is 82.  I also have a job that I am trying to keep throughout all of this.  Sometimes i just want to crawl up in a hole and give up.  I know that cant happen because my husband needs me and that is all that keeps me going.


  • Ladylacy
    Ladylacy Member Posts: 773 Member

    My husband was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer in July 2010.  Since that time he has undergone 70 rounds of radiation, 10 rounds of chemo, surgery, 2nd primary at the cervical of his esphoguas, now a reoccurrence of the 2nd primary and spread to his right lung.  He declined further treatment.

    During his treatment and surgery, he did very well.  Yes the first round of 35 radiation and 3 chemo was hard on him but he was also 73 when he started with this beast.  During his first round of treatment, he was seeing our local ENT and oncologist who was treating him for a rare blood cancer that my husband was diagnosed with 7 years before the laryngeal cancer.  When the radiation and chemo didn't get the tumor, we were referred to a head and neck specialist and that was the best decision our local ENT and oncologist gave us.  

    As a caregiver it is hard to watch our loved ones suffered but I can say that my husband for the first 4 weeks of radiation drove to his treatments which were 15 miles from the house.  But I met many people who drove themselves during their whole treatment.  I was always with him in case he didn't feel like driving, but I was also retired.  Our first round of chemo was only 5 minutes from the house and he didn't want me to sit there with him during the 2-3 hours it took for him to get his chemo.  Now during his second round of radiation, he might have drove the 30 miles to the Winship Cancer Center but I always drove home and towards the middle of treatment, I was doing all the driving.  

    He takes care of his feeding tube and feedings himself.   The first time the feeding tube was put in we were told he might not need it, but he did for the hydration and nutrition because the radiation eventually closed off the back of his throat which had to be rebuilt during his laryngectomy. Just make sure your husband drinks lots of water to stay hydrated because if he doesn't it will lead to problems.    As far as having help during all this time from anyone, and we have 4 grown children, and grown grandchildren, no one ever offered to come stay with us and help in anyway.  Even today with their father dying, they don't offer any help nor do they bother to call and check on him.  Only one is good at doing that.  But that will be theirs to deal with when their father passes.  My husband still works in the yard on his good days, he still drives when he has taken no pain medication but driving is something he is doing less and less of.

    Once piece of advice I can offer you is don't baby your husband.  Let him do what he can to help himself and help you.  Head and neck radiation is the worse we were told and they were right but my husband was able to handle it without too many problems.  As treatment goes on he will sleep more and that is good for healing and pain medication is needed too.  My husband didn't want to take the pain medication because he was afraid of getting addicted but the doctors told him no that the pain medication will help him heal.

    And the best piece of advice I can give you, is to take care of yourself.  And to take time for yourself regardless of what is going on.  You will need it to get thru this.



  • jim and i
    jim and i Member Posts: 1,788 Member
    My husband was treated for

    My husband was treated for tongue cancer which spread to his lungs. I quit work to take care of him which was a wise choice since he is very sensitive to pain meds and they made him wander (sometimes naked) outside. I can't imagine taking care of his mother as well. You might contact Council on aging or Medicare for help with her. We were able to get in home care for half day for Jim's mother when she was with us, They helped bath her, prepare her breakfast and do her laundry. I would also suggest going on the Head and Neck board. There is a wealth of support and info there from survivors and caregivers as well. They continue to be my best support system.

    I pray things go well.


  • bjohn
    bjohn Member Posts: 20

    It is so hard to know what to do. My husband was treated for sinus cancer and we  try to go on as we did before.. His prognosis is always up in the air, so sometimes I wonder if I should work less ( I am also finishing up a degree) and spend more time with him.  I guess there will always be second guessing about the best wy to handle this.

  • Tate1294
    Tate1294 Member Posts: 4 Member

    My heart goes out to you but in our case, stage 4 head and neck, chemo and radiation and feeding tube...he hated the feeding tube and pushed himself to get rid of it 3 months after ending treatment. diet was pretty limited for a while, snow cones were the right consistency for awhile, scrambled eggs, pureed soups, instant mashed potatoes because the consistency so smooth...pina coladas, (even tho he was on Fentanyl patches) He weaned himself off the fentanyl because he could not stand the thought of being hooked. but he did get back to work and only now 16 yrs later is he having problems, i can hear it in his voice and swallowing. so, try to find opportunities to keep your own sanity because i do remember when he was in hospital and our sons came to visit, i was surprised the one boy brought a new girlfriend, good grief but their own emotions were pretty raw so we all do what we can. my hsb did not like to have other people (even relatives ) know what he was going thru but i needed support and o confided in close friends and family who were able to check on me, invite me out for a burger and just give me a hug when i was teary. some patients actually journal the experience, it seems to give them some satisfaction and control...my hsb lost a lot of weight thru treatment and i did too but you will not be a help if you let yourself get run down, don't feel guilty prioritizing what you must and realize the 82 yr old has lived life already. oh i guess i have run on too much, God Bless