Cancer Diary – Third Entry

Posted in Health - aging, mostly by EloiSVM42 on May 5, 2011

Since we’ve returned from the Mayo Clinic, we’ve been reading the research paper that the Mayo doc gave us about the procedure I’ll be undergoing. Though the survival rate is very encouraging, some of the other statistics are sobering.

The survival rate (for at least five years) is about 90% or even higher in many circumstances. That’s the good news. Here’s some other stuff: 

  • Neck dissections are performed in 83% of cases. This will definitely happen to me. They plan to remove the lymph glands in my throat to see what and how much may have gotten into there. From this, they will determine whether I will need “adjuvant radiation therapy.” So, in addition to having a sore throat on the inside, I’m going to have a sore throat on the outside.


  • Two thirds (66%) of patients were offered post-operative radiation therapy. They won’t know until they’ve looked at my lymph glands whether this is warranted in my case, but the statistics indicate I may well be a candidate. We’re told this therapy can be rough. Some patients have chronic dry throats thereafter, and some even lose their sense of taste.


  • 37% of patients required a temporary tracheotomy (I’m not sure what this means. You either have a tracheotomy or you don’t. It’s like being pregnant or not. I suppose they mean that the patient won’t be breathing through a hole in the throat for the rest of his life. On the other hand, women aren’t pregnant for the rest of their lives either. It only seems that way. Might as well just call it tracheotomy.) So, the odds are one in three that, in addition to a sore throat and a sore neck, I’ll have a hole in my throat.


  • 75% of the patients received a feeding tube, inserted through the nose. They’ve already told us that I will have this pleasure. This can last from one to three weeks, though they think, due to the relatively small size of my cancer, that I’ll likely only be fed this way for only a week.  

All-in-all, while the outcome looks favorable, I figure to be in for a rough month or so.

Also since we returned, Cynthia checked out a half dozen books from the library on health and healing, and has been reading to me inspirational messages from them. These include books published by the Mayo Clinic and others written by Deepak Chopra, M.D.

My throat is getting progressively sorer. It’s not that it is so painful, but it is a constant reminder of what’s in my throat, and it’s bad enough to affect my sleep. Cynthia called Mayo Clinic and the young assistant doc called right back, which was much appreciated. He called in a prescription for a drug that is both a pain reliever and a cough suppressant. So, I’m sleeping a little better, but Cynthia is so stressed she hardly sleeps at all. She’s more worried about me than am I, which is very sweet.

The doc also said it is important that I eat to keep my weight up. I infer from this that they expect me to lose a lot of weight while I’m being fed through the tube.

We return to the Mayo Clinic on Friday, November 20 for a pre-surgery “testing” day. There’s nothing much more to do until then. I’ll write another installment after the tests.

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