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Reply to "Tonsil Cancer - 1 Year on"

200minutes posted:
A year ago today I had my operation. This was following diagnosis of a squamous cell primary cancer to my right tonsil, with a secondary to one of my neck lymph nodes. Radical neck disection, removal of RHS lymph nodes, cutting through jaw, removal of primary and replacement with a flap from my left forearm. A familiar story to many on this forum.

Surgery took over 7 hours. Intensive care for a day, hospital for 8 days altogether and then home. First day at home - disaster! Speech suddenly goes indistinct, I look in the bathroom mirror and see that my flap has come undone down one side! Back into hospital and they decide they do not want to attempt a repair but wish to review it after my radiotherapy course.

A couple of weeks at home and then I'm back into hospital to be fitted up with my mask and into 6 weeks of daily radiotherapy. I also had 2 sessions of chemo (cisplatin) which knocked me for 6 both times. As I was having some difficulty eating anyway, I agreed to have a PEG fitted from the outset. Was given Ensure as a diet supplement.

Radiotherapy wasn't too bad until the last couple of weeks. Then mouth got realy dry, throat got sore and I did get a fungal infection which was cleared up fairly easily with some drops. In my last week of R/T the skin on my neck broke down. I lost over 2 stone during this period.

R/T finished at the end of October, but it took a couple of weeks until I really started to recover. I was given a zinc supplement which brought my sense of taste back fairly quickly, but I couldn't stand alcohol or chilli for quite some time. By Christmas I could manage a fair range of food and beer, but not wine.

In November they had a look at my throat flap and decided that it could be saved. Minor op in early December and I was stitched back together, although in the process my flap ended up smaller than intended which has left me with "hyper-nasal" speech.

Back to work in January, family holiday in Cyprus at Easter and then I ran the London Marathon in April.

1 year on and I've got most of my weight back and I'm as fit as I was before this all started. I've got some interesting scars and my speech & hearing aren't great - but everything is far better than it could be!

I'm really happy that you are alright now after a long journey of fighting with tonsil cancer.

I feel that we should never lose hope, even if there is no hope left. Positive attitude and positive thoughts can bring your life to normal. I'm really inspired by your story, hope you'll do great in future as well and well never have to face this kind of situation.

I wish you a really healthy and happy life. Thanks for sharing your journey over here. After reading survival stories I really feel that we should never lose hope and we must fight to win against cancer.