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How long after treatment do you feel better?

Posts: 7
Joined: Nov 2004

My mom just finished 5 1/2 weeks of IMRT and 5 chemo treatments for T1 N4 tounge cancer. She is miserable because a week out of treatment she
can't eat by mouth yet, still has sores on her mouth and throat, and still has a ton of mucous. Can anyone tell me how long she can expect this before she starts to feel better? She doesn't want to do anything and is very beside herself.

also, anyone who had a PEG tube during radiation and was able to have the peg tube removed after treatment, how long did it take before you could eat again? She says if she needs the tube forever she doesnt want to live like that.


dbaker331's picture
Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2004

I feel for you, I had squamos cell carcinoma in the tonsil 5 years ago and I had to go through a very rough radiation treatment that not only destroyed part of my saliva glands it rended me unable to swallow for 5-6 months due to the burns. 4 weeks in, I was hospitalized and a feeding tube was inserted. Here's several things she'll have to look forward to..

1. Your taste buds change and you'll find you don't like some of the food you like before

2. Expect 3-5 months(after treatment) before you feel comfortable swallowing again

3.. You will have to learn to swallow and it won't ever feel the same again. Depending on how several and how long your treatment is, the sores go away, but the method of swallowing, I still struggle with today

4. The mucous was a terrible experience, but make sure you get them an aspirator so they can drain it all, otherwise they'll be twice as sick.

She'll get so tired of Ensure, but tell her once she tries ice cream in a few months, she'll fall in love with cereal and ice cream as they are the first things you can get down.

It does get better, and if she puts alot of her day to day enjoyment into eating, she needs to replace that satisfaction with something else, crafts, or something to take your mind off the sores.. I had so much trouble getting off the morphine that I was taking for the pain, I didn't have a stable thought process, so the sooner she gets off the pain medicine the sooner she'll begin to get energy back.

Hope this helps... I really believe this is so much harder on others than it is one the person, so you might remind them of the affect her sick attitudes have on those around her.. especially if she has grandchildren that are looking at her for smiles and happiness.

Posts: 23
Joined: Jul 2004

My friend had ssc of the tonsil stage 4. After treatment it took about 2 months before he could swallow & eat without pain. But it will come. As soon as he started to put on some weight they removed the peg. Time heals be patient. His biggest problem is no saliva.He struggles daily with this and gaining weight but all else is really improving! Good luck, let me know if I can help!God bless & prayer works!

Posts: 5
Joined: Jan 2005

I felt much better after about 4 months after my treatments ended. What helped my mouth a lot was to gargle with a mixture of two tablespoons of salt and two tablespoons of baking soda mixed in a quart of water. She should use it all the time she can't do it too often. I had a peg tube for 8 weeks and then I started to be able to eat on my own. Also if she gets bad cracks in the corners of her mouth, neosporin will heal them the fastest. If her radiation makes her neck scab up, I found that a product called "Aguaphor" ointment was great and very soothing. Bless her and your heart. It going to be rough but she'll make it through.

laurena's picture
Posts: 16
Joined: Apr 2004

Hello Dana, Glad you are talking to us again. So your mom is finished with the treatments? Expect it to get slightly worse before it gets better. Be glad she has the tube, at least she doesn't have to starve like I did. It's really hard to get enough calories in you in the beginning. All these people gave good advice I have nothing to add, just wanted to say hello and keep your spirits up! God bless you and your mom.

Posts: 6
Joined: Jan 2005

Dana i am so sorry and sad to hear about your mum, my husband has had his peg tube in since Nov 04, and with three more cycles of chemo to go he may have it in for a few more months yet. At times it has made him feel really low and misereable. he is post seven weeks treatment and today for the first time he had half a glass of milk and two teaspoons of pumpkin soup. I nearly cried as i was so proud of this achievement. as to how long it takes, each persons experiences and achievements are different. Good luck

Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2005


I just finished treatments about six weeks ago, though it was for cancer of the epiglotis. I have a peg tube and used it until about ten days ago. My oncologists is suggesting that it is time to remove it but she wants me to consult with my radiation oncologist first. I am actually beginning to feel much beter physically, my problems are emotional at this point.

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