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!