As Tori Amos sang, it was a pretty good year and it was; as I am still here!
It was exactly one year ago when I had my last session of Radiotherapy, as you can see from the photos below I’ve come through it pretty well unscathed.
Yes I still have issues with dry mouth and sticky saliva, meat especially chicken is still difficult and oral thrush still plagues me due to lack of saliva, but all the above are better than the alternative.
The top photo is a no holds barred shot of how I looked at my worst the 3rd photo was taken in our garden this week. So to all of your reading this I’ve put them in to show you there is light at the end of the tunnel.
One of my worst fears that I voiced at the beginning of my blog the night before treatment started was I was scared would I still be me Hazel, would I change. I think this fear is a rational one and one that most of you will have thought it as well. I can categorically state in my case I am still me! Not a new me! Not a different me. I am still me. I think John and rest of our family hopefully agree with me. I haven’t gone morose, soft or anything I am still me, sometimes a demanding pain in the neck yep that’s me. John described me this way “you still want to do everything you did before cancer, things that might be problematic are an annoyance and are not to be accepted for ever”.
Quick update medical wise, 10 days ago I finally got to see the back of my throat! All swelling had gone and with some manipulation of my tongue I could see the back of my throat biopsy site but something was missing! I called John and asked him to open his mouth and then look into mine. As I thought my clacker or dangly bit or to give it it’s medical name Palatine Uvula had dissolved. So a little bit of Dr Google (advice still applies, keep off it for diagnosis) I got an answer as to why my throat is drying out when I speak. Like most of you reading this I had no idea what it did! Well it’s the source of thin saliva that is directed to our throats when we speak, plus it helps to move food down the throat. Umm no amount of acupuncture’s going to restore that, so now I know what I am dealing with it’s just a case of I have to get in with it. What I do want to know though at my next appointment with hopefully Mr Gunnaaseca is why haven’t I been told that it had melted!
My weight is stable at just under 10 stone, eating wise as long as I plan I can manage pretty much most meals (but not spicy). The main difference is food rarely gives me any pleasure, it’s rare that I say after a meal that I enjoyed it. I still from time to time have to have water to get things down, I can drink a can of pop, rarely coke, sometimes Fanta Orange, using a straw is much better than drinking from the can or a glass. I still haven’t touched a drop of alchol for no other reason other than I rarely drunk previously and have no desire to stress my mouth out any more.
What do I miss? Its the little things, making a sandwich and nibbling on a bit of meat or cheese, if I forget and try it’s deffo reach for the water quickly. A nice bacon sandwich but nope the bread combined with bacon is just a step too far, crisps I adored a packet of Walkers plain, nothing fancy, ok I can eat them but the time it takes and the suffering in my mouth it’s not worth it.
Friends we’ve made some great ones through my cancer diagnosis there’s a small tightly knit band of us that regularly keep in touch. 3 of us plus other half’s meet up for food and a chat, our next meet will be just prior to Christmas. Its good to have what we call cancer buddies as we exchange tips and compare notes, plus John gets to find out from their wives point of views, I throughly recommend to anyone starting this journey don’t wrap yourself in a bubble, as you all know me by now I am not a shy retiring wallflower even through treatment I was the chatty one, ok I knew when people didn’t want to and respected that but Neil and Jo along with Jason and Michelle were happy to chat and we’ve gone from there.
TOP TIPS FOR NEW PEOPLE.
Curaprox soft toothbrushes invaluable for keeping teeth clean.
Duraphat toothpaste on dental prescription.
Buy a humidifier especially for night time mine was a Cool Mist from Amazon.
Your hospital should loan you a nebuliser you can use plain boiled water as well as saline.
Drink as much water as you can it really is vital keep a daily check of how much you are drinking especially later in treatment and first weeks of recovery alongside keeping a track of calories aim for 2000/2500 a day easier said than done.
Most if all keep a smile and a positive mental attitude, if I can do it honestly anyone can.
Please keep in touch if anyone wants any advice I am only too pleased to help.
To John, Nicola, Mel, James and all our extended family and friends too numerous to mention not forgetting all the NHS staff thank you once again.