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Don't know what to expect

Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2010

My husband was diagnostic last month with cancer at the base of his tongue, he is also a diabetic with he controls with insulin daily. He starts his chemo tomorrow and radiation,we were told chemo once a week for 6 1/2 weeks for 4 hours and radiation for about 20 to 25 minutes. He has never been sick a day, and is the strongest person I know, but I am so scared, I can't tell me kids exactly how I feel because I don't whant them upset more then they have to be. I don't know where to turn its so overwhelming. He isn't a drinker, but was an occassional cigar smoker, I truly believe its enviromental. Anyone out there who may have answers. Really appreciate.

Lena Rose
Posts: 73
Joined: Apr 2010

Hi Jackie,

My 53 year husband was also diagnosed this March with base of the tongue cancer, stage 3, HPV+. He also didn't smoke, except for an occasional cigar, exercised, ate pretty well. He did test HPV positive, a virus which he could have picked up many, many years ago. Was your husband tested for that? My husband finished 7 weeks of chemo/1 day a week and radiation/5 days a week 6 weeks ago. He had a feeding tube put in before treatment since he didn't have a lot of spare weight to lose. It was so overwhelming in the beginning. This board has truly been a lifeline for me, just ask, there are many generous knowledgeable people here. Sending you both strength as you husband starts his treatment.

Scambuster's picture
Posts: 973
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi Jackie,

All of us here have had or are going through treatment for cancer of the head and neck (NPC) the same of in someways similar to what your husband is going through. While it sometimes clear what may cause this horrible disease, it is in fact very difficult to pinpoint why any of us got it. There are so many possible causes : environmental, genetic, HPV, diet & lifestyle, compromised immune system, or simply a combination of any or all of these.

It is not worth knocking yourself out trying to figure it out as there is unlikely to be a definite answer. What you can do is moving forward - plan to remove as many possible risks of recurrence from your lives as you can in the future.

There are the obvious : don't smoke, don't drink and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This last one is all relative where you can go all out and do the raw foods, vegetarian route avoiding all processed foods, sugars, fried foods etc or you many choose a middle ground but I believe our diet is very important. These things are something you should try to work out during the next few months as you will soon become far more aware of all this information as you go through this journey with your husband. Take your time and try to stay calm for now.

You have both started a regime of treatment now that will actually carry you along, so take each step as it comes for now. Do your appointments, get to the sessions, ask questions of your Doctors and others involved as you go along and you will be fine. Ask for help from family and friends when you need it.

You need to know that while the immediate road ahead may be very rough for a while, there is plenty of hope and a very strong chance of full recovery ahead of you.

There are some wonderful people on this board who will be here to help you both get through this so come on as often as you need to ask questions, seek advice and learn from others and their experience.

there will be plenty more posts after this one.

All the best for now.

Kimba1505's picture
Posts: 557
Joined: Apr 2010

Welcome and I am sorry that you are here. My partner, Mark, age 53, was diagnosed in April with SCC left tonsil, Stage IV, HPV+. It is alarming and it is scarey...no doubt. And then you just do it. You move through every day, and you cross them off. You love and support, and you stay strong. Mark's sister had breast cancer 6 years ago, and she told me going into this the most important thing her husband did for her was stay strong. In reality we cannot stay strong 100% of the time; but it is what he needs to see. I cry elsewhere, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. Occassionally my fragility comes out with Mark, but those words of his sister ring in my ears..."STAY STRONG". I don't know how old your kids are, but I would stay strong for them too, and be real with them that this is scarey and somewhat unknown, and remind them how strong thier dad is, and you are there to take care of him.
This message board, and the people on it are amazing. My partner finsihes treatment today, and I can honestly say, I would not have faired so well without all the people and the support here. And it is available 24/7. I have coffee every morning with people around the world (literally) who know this cancer. I start every day with strong people behind me, holding me up, so I can stay strong and hold up Mark. An added bonus is you will find you can support others here too...and that feeds us, knowing we are giving and getting at the same time.
Jackie, you can do this. It is a one day at a time process. Make the most of each day. Even treatment days...have it be a time you can be together. It is temporary. Balance will come again.
My best to you and your husband.
Stay connected,

Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

Did I just read today is the day.....ya, go knock the last of it out.....congrats.

Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

Like Scam said, there are many variables in contracting this cancer. Also, a lot of us are/were in similar situations as your husband (being otherwise healthy)....that was always my introduction during my time of treatment;

Other than having cancer, I was in perfect health.

Being in good health (at least to me) is a plus in combating the disease and tolerating treatment. But....as you'll soon hear on here, "Everyone is different", everyone is different and everyone responds differently.

While a lot of us have had/having similar treatments, and reactions, many have varying degrees of these.

So welcome and open yourself to our experiences, education and history. Take out of it what is important and pertinant to your situation.

Good Luck, God Bless,

D Lewis's picture
D Lewis
Posts: 1576
Joined: Jan 2010


Everyone else here has already said it. Welcome to the group. Take it one day at a time, and ask questions. There will be folks here with the answers. We have all been through, or are going through the same process.


Pam M's picture
Pam M
Posts: 2196
Joined: Nov 2009

I, too, have been a very healthy person since I was a child. I was diagnosed Stage IV Base of tongue cancer with two nodes involved at the end of October, 2009. Finished all treatments mid March. Just after my cancer diagnosis, my GP's office told me I was diabetic. I was put on Metformin.

When it was hard for me to swallow, I used liquid nutrition instead of solid food for a while. I used a product called Enterex - sugar-free, recommended for diabetics. You really have to watch liquid nutritional supplements for sugar and corn syrup. Enterex doesn't have as many calories as Ensure Plus, but it has no sugar. I just drank more Enterex than I would have Ensure Plus. The only place around me that carries Enterex is WalMart, but if you need it, you can ask your local pharmacy, grocery or Sam's-type club is they would consider ordering it for you. It's pricey, never goes on sale, and doesn't put out coupons that I know of.

Also, be sure to keep the fact that your hubby's a diabetic fresh in his oncologist's mind. When I got a feeding tube, my docs had me on a tube formula full of corn syrup - some do not have as much. The problem, as I see it, is that sugar and corn syrup provide cheap calories; we want calories, even though we don't want sugar. In my case, my docs decided to go with the higher calorie option and let my GP deal with any blood sugar issues that might arise. All went well for me.

My three month check was positive - two of three tumors are non-issues now. The third showed some activity, but could be within the range of normal - we're watching the node for now. I was afraid the diabetes would interfere with my treatment - that hasn't been the case.

I hope you all do well going on this "strange trip". Please keep us posted.

Pam M's picture
Pam M
Posts: 2196
Joined: Nov 2009

Almost forgot - sorry you had reason to look for this site - glad you found it - I can't tell you how helpful the people here have been.

delnative's picture
Posts: 450
Joined: Aug 2009

I'm so sorry you and your husband had to join the H&N Cancer Club, but now that you're one (two) of us, welcome. There are good people here and a lot of expertise, because we've all been through it or are going through the journey you're now embarking on.
This cancer can be cured, and many of us are living testimony to that fact. The treatment can be brutal, but it's doable. Hang in there, be positive and come back frequently. We're here for you.

--Jim in Delaware
(22 months post-treatment, Stage III tonsil cancer, metastasized to one lymph node)

Kent Cass
Posts: 1898
Joined: Nov 2009

How did it go today?

Would suggest you don't overdue the thing about the cause of your husband's C, Jackie. That isn't where the focus needs to be. You husband has C, and a blame game gets you nowhere. He just got the C, Jackie, and now you and he have to deal with it. He will survive this, as have we all, and you two should always keep that in mind, along with staying Positive. He's starting down a road that can get kinda rough, but we've all been down similar roads, and you can figure a couple here were on roads rougher than your husband will tred, or that I tred. He's gonna survive this, Jackie- so get used to it, as I like to say. It's 2nd-Chance at life time, Jackie, and you and he are making family history that you'll someday look back upon with okay memories.

Keep your Drs. well advised on how he's physically dealing with treatment. Be open with them, so that they can help just as soon as he needs it. Write your questions down before you visit the Dr., so you won't forget them. And make sure he gets as much good Nutrition as he can take-in: Nutrition is the ammo the body needs to fight this battle the very best it can, Jackie. All agree on that.

AND, STAY POSITIVE. Everything will be okay. It can be a rough road, but for some it's not been so rough, and all of us have been able to navigate our roads okay with our med team, and the good Lord, friends and family. Just stay Positive, and keep moving forward.



Hal61's picture
Posts: 655
Joined: Dec 2009

Overwhelmed and scared are everyones' first natural reaction. I was numb for a couple of days when first diagnosed in November '09 with SCC, base of tongue with spread to two lymph nodes. Someone told me then, "You're going to be busy," and boy were they right. You've arranged for treatment and you've found this site, so you and your husband are on track now, and the people here will help you replace the anxiety with information and hope. I didn't know there were so many brands of "peg tube" and drinkable manufactured liquids as I've heard of here. People here and your doctors will lead you to the right ones. I use a product called "Isosource," and am now drinking and eating other things along with it.

best, Hal

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