Treatment for Tonsil Cancer is nasty. At times I just knew I was going to die and that was alright with me. I was sure that life as I knew it was over. Joyce tried to keep things positive, but I wasn't listening.
There is Life After Treatment
Well guess what? I didn't die. In fact I feel pretty good. Joyce and I have traveled to Europe, ridden through Holland on a motorcycle, adopted two puppies and vacationed here in the States. We live. Want proof? Click on the SmugMug banner to the right. The majority of them were taken after my treatment.
My last round of radiation was on September 1, 2006. Today, I can truthfully say it's almost like it never happened. I've listed a few lingering effects. Believe me, I'm not bitching, it's a small price to pay.
Dry Mouth and Throat
Radiation killed the right side salivary glands, but the left side is trying to compensate. At the 8 month mark I hit about 80% saliva production. Today I'd say it's more like 90%. I can eat most things, but still sometime need a little help with dry foods. I guess my biggest accomplishment has been eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the aid of drinking something. Yes, I can even eat crackers :)
This was a problem for awhile, but now it's not so bad. Every so often I lose the ability to swallow. I'll be eating and out of the blue, I'll choke. So far no harm has come of it. I don't consider it a big deal.
Can't Open Mouth as Wide
Radiation 'cooked' the muscles in my head and neck. They have lost some of their elasticity. Like everything else, this has improved, but tall cheese burgers still scare me :)
Neck and Jaw Pain
A small amount of pain comes and goes. Sometimes it's dull, sometimes it's sharp. It also moves around. Dr. Ferguson had a name for it, but I can't remember what he called it.
Ability to Taste
It's been a long, slow recovery, but I'm happy to say that most foods taste pretty much like I remember. Some things are a little muted, some not. The big blow is ice cream still tastes bad. After two years things are still improving, so there is still hope. My ENT, Dr. Ferguson, said it's probably the fat content. This makes sense. Other fatty foods taste just a little off.
Chemo caused some upper frequency hearing loss. I've also got a bad case of tinnitus (ringing in the ears).