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where did my voice go?

Posts: 89
Joined: Sep 2009

I finished radiation treatment four days ago. I managed well throughout the treatments - worked daily through week five; have throat pain and pain with swallowing, but ate normal soft foods with Boost as a supplement; burns on skin are not severe. Yesterday, my voice was cracking and this morning, I can only squeak. There is mucous. Anyone have this happen? I am only capable of a whisper (which to some might be good news, but to me it is not) Any input would be helpful, thanks, Dazey

Glenna M's picture
Glenna M
Posts: 1576
Joined: May 2009

Dazey, I also lost my voice during radiation treatment and was told not to worry, it was caused by the radiation. My voice returned to normal within a week, during this time my husband really enjoyed the silence :-)

For your own piece of mind you may want to ask your doctors to confirm this. My cancer was on my larynx so I had no voice (only a crackly whisper) for almost 6 months prior to treatment. One week into treatment my voice returned to normal so I was really upset when I lost it again during treatment.

Please be sure to ask your doctors (don't be afraid to call) whenever you are concerned about anything. That's what you're paying them for!!

Congratulations for making it through the radiation, I know it wasn't easy but you made it. Now you can look forward to seeing improvements, just don't be impatient as I was. Things will get better but they take time.

Please post again and let us know how you are doing. You will find many people on here that can relate to your experiences and they will be able to offer advice and will relate their experiences regarding any concerns you may have.

Take care, I'm wishing you continued improvement!!

Posts: 89
Joined: Sep 2009

Thanks for the feedback. The key is to call the doctor - you are right on - do not be afraid, just call. So, I did (which was a challenge unto itself)and he said I am talking too much - so for a while, there will be the sounds of silence in my house. I stayed home from work today - went back to work earlier this week and think that probably contributed to this condition. I really appreciate the input from everyone - it is good to normalize what the experience is. Even though we are all different and react differently, it is good to hear that some do share the same experience and are moving forward. Thanks again, Dazey

delnative's picture
Posts: 450
Joined: Aug 2009

Let me get this straight: You went back to work a week after finishing radiation?
Dude! (Or should I say, dudette!)
I thought I was pretty hard-core, but I can't hold a candle to you.
As you well know, or as you're finding out just about now, we continue to "cook" for a few weeks after the rads end. Mine ended Oct. 5, 2008, and I didn't go back to work until late December.
If the worst you get out of this is problems with your voice, you are truly blessed.
Hang in there!

--Jim in Delaware

Posts: 89
Joined: Sep 2009

Actually, I never stopped working - I would leave work early each day to go for treatment and then home. I took week #6 off - mainly because my family came to help/visit - but the day they left, I went back to work. It could be because I only had radiation - no chemo and no feeding tube and as everyone on the board points out (correctly) we are all different! The lymph node that started this adventure was removed in July.

I think all of us on this board are pretty hard core - some by choice and some by chance - this board has been a wonderful resource - and there are none who are better than we are on this board! As you say, the cooking continues - still very inflamed - so much so, that at my 4 week follow up yesterday, the doctor wouldn't do the scope. I have more mucous than I have had in my life. I lost my voice a few weeks ago, but it did come back. It is raspy now - some days better, some days worse. My neck does not have any residual burns - it looks great. Biggest issues are the mucous and pain in my throat when swallowing. Doctor said to have patience, I am healing but it will take a long time - he will see me in three months.

I agree, Jim, I have been truly blessed in so many ways. Thank you for reminding me of that - sometimes we forget.

Dazey in NY

fishingirl's picture
Posts: 188
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi there!

I am on my 26th day post radiation. I had cancer at the base of my tongue. I think its called squamous cell carcinoma? Anyway, I've had no voice too!! Just a whisper. And it's driving my crazy!! lol!! I guess because I've always been independant, and now I have to rely on my husband, friends and family to talk for me:( Mostly for making appts. etc.

How are you doing now? Did you get you voice back?? I hope so! I can't wait to get mine back.
Take care,
cindy In b.c. Canada

Posts: 89
Joined: Sep 2009

Voice came back - still occasionally scratchy - saw doctor today, exactly four weeks post radiation. He said it is still very inflamed and did not want to scope it. It will take time to heal = be patient- Radiation has caused mucusitis; stop talking; eat things that are not too hot or cold- my Cat scan from last week is "Perfectly normal"; he will see me in three months------overall, I would say I had one great day!

Thanks for asking - the voice was gone for only about 4-5 days - frustrating to say the least, I am not into squeaking. I was diagnosed with metatastic squamous cell cancer with unknown primary. They took many ,biopsies - base of tongue, both sides, tonsil areas, esophagus and all were benign. Only the one lymph node that was removed showed any malignancy. I will have patience and know that I will mend - and so will you. Losing your voice can be a positive - just smile sweetly and point to your throat while shaking your head - people will go out of their way to help. You are doing great - keep looking forward. Dazey

fishingirl's picture
Posts: 188
Joined: Nov 2009

That is sooo good, that you got your voice back!! In such a short time!! Sounds to me like you are doing great!! Keep it up!! :)

Kent Cass
Posts: 1898
Joined: Nov 2009

Dazey- the same with me. Oto. tells me it is cause for concern, and I have to keep my Port for some 3 years, but the only place they actually found cancer is in the two left-side neck tumors I had. Four of the initial five biopsys the Oto. sent to get tested came back as negative. And losing my voice early in treatment gave me cause to create "a scene" at the radiation center- but now my voice is better than ever! Also, my tumors were not actually removed- my Drs. used chemo/rad to destroy them.
My last treatment was in early-April. Take it slow and easy, and everything will be okay.
Keep me/us updated on your condition- please.

carolinagirl67's picture
Posts: 153
Joined: Jul 2009


My husband did lose his voice for a few days, but it came back. Not sure why but it improved pretty quickly. Glad to hear you did well. Take care, Donna

thegirlfriend's picture
Posts: 147
Joined: Sep 2009

was anyone a singer? I dont mean professional, or maybe I do, but my guy sang on his church praise team. Drs told him he would never sing again. I dont believe that. But we will see.
just curious about others...

cwcad's picture
Posts: 117
Joined: Nov 2009

I considered myself a singer(Pre-cancer). In fact it was the reason that I finally gave in to my wife to go and see a doctor. I only was able to sing a few notes and they were kind of scratchy. It has been almost three years and last summer I tried to sing at a Karaoke bar and made an utter fool of myself. I still cannot sing. Small price for me to pay. I do miss singing but hearing my son sing grade school songs makes it all worth it to me. I am still here!!

Posts: 26
Joined: May 2009

I also lost my voice for a long time. We resorted to using a kids' magna-doodle (a magnetic writing tool) or a dry-erase board to communicate. My kids learned thta capitol letters meant I was raising my "voice" and meant business NOW! My voice is back - sure it may crack here and there- but I can sing now (I didn't say I could carry a tune, just that I could sing - I am certain my kids wish I wouldn't sing now!! ;)

Best to still let dr. know though in case there's anything else there.

luv4lacrosse's picture
Posts: 1410
Joined: Jul 2010

I lost my voice almost a month ago. I got it back for 2 days while I was in the hospital getting my PEG inserted. I finished RADS last WED. and received Bilateral Neck Radiation.

I guess it will come back when it comes back??


sweetblood22's picture
Posts: 3228
Joined: Jan 2010

I lost my voice at the end of rads and it was gone for almost two months. It still sounds cruddy and I am 18 or so months out. I sang 2nd soprano in church choir and In an 86 member chorale group. I just went back to rehearsal to try and sing for xmas concert. It's not going well. I have no control over my voice, no power, a terrible tickle and cough, and my mouth is too dry to sing a whole song. I have gone to five rehearsals and every time I have been trying more products to try and help me out but it's not working. I doubt I will try to sing at concert. I loved to sing and had a decent voice. It was a great joy to me, so it's hard to deal with, but I don't think I will be able to sing.

Posts: 1
Joined: May 2011

Hi there
How are you getting on now Sweetblood I see that post is from last oct?
I finished radiotherapy 6 weeks ago
I had my thyroid and a tumour removed 3 yrs ago
At that time I had radioactive iodine therapy where i had to be locked up for a week!!
I had a recurrence last summer and had the neck dissection again which was not fun
This time they locked me up for a week again and then I had the 6 weeks daily blast of radiotherapy to kill off everything in the area
6 weeks on my voice is not too bad...quite hoarse
I cough a good bit at night but thats all that really is bothering me
Apart from the singing....also i was in a choir and sang at weddings etc
Has anyone been through this and got their voice back?
I just joined this forum...never was on one before..I read a few before and they depressed me....but found everyone so positive and sounding so wonderful on this one I joined

sweetblood22's picture
Posts: 3228
Joined: Jan 2010

Hi there. Sorry you have need of our little club, but glad you found us. I am ok. Still vertical and still breathing, so that is a good thing. I had to pull out of choir. I tried so hard, but I couldn't do it. I tried for about 4-5 months, but it's impossible. I think if my mouth wasn't so dry, I would eventually gain more control back, and would be ok to sing with the choir, but not solo. My mouth is just too dry. I don't remember if I said up there, but I am totally missing my left salivary gland, and of course the right one was fried with rads.

I'm very happy to say that I find most everyone here to be very positive, and even on out worst days, we pretty much all seem to still have a sense of humor, which comes in pretty handy. :)

Wishing you well.



Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2017


I just read all your messages just now.

I had level one vocal chord cancer.

I had radiation therapy around July last year and I have lost my voice completely for 4-5 months.

Then I got my talking voice back but my singing voice is still not yet come back. I can sing few notes but not higher octave at all And also I have phlegm all the time.

singing is my passion and we asked my rad about it before and she assured me that I'll be singing.

but now my rad says we cured your cancer which is needed.

I agree what she says but loosing my singing voice making feel very depressed.

i saw you all posted these messages 5-6 years back. so just want to know if you got your singing voice back or not.

I really appreciate your reply. Reading all your messages gave me hope and happy to see people like me around here.

thanks a lot

robinleigh's picture
Posts: 297
Joined: Mar 2011

My husband finished chemo/rad 4 wks. ago and his voice has gone through ups and downs but it's becoming easier for everyone to understand. A lot of his weak voice is evident when there is a lot of mucous accumulated in the back of his throat and when he clears it his voice is clearer. The good news is the mucous is subsiding, so along with that his voice is also strengthening. Uphill from here...

sweetblood22's picture
Posts: 3228
Joined: Jan 2010

You just reminded me that there was also a point where my tongue hurt so bad and it wouldn't move right that it was almost impossible to understand what the heck I was trying to say. I still have trouble with my 'th' and my 's', but at least people understand what I'm saying. The stupid automated phone thingers, they never know what I'm saying and kick me out to the operator. Lol

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