HEAD NECK CANCER - A learning journey
In June I was diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer, located at the base of the tongue, metastasised to my right cervical lymph nodes. After seven weeks of targeted radiotherapy, five days a week, and eight weekly doses of chemotherapy drug 'cetuximab' at the world class Peter Mac Cancer Centre, Melbourne, how do I feel?
I am glad the treatment is over, and felt very emotional, as if I had run a huge marathon for two months. But those treatment days had structure, so now I need to be disciplined to create structure and goals for every day.
EATING, SWALLOWING ARE STILL DIFFICULT
Three weeks after treatment, I am not taking very much by mouth. But my oncologist says "You are doing great! Some people can't manage even baby portions. There will still be some discomfort for weeks to come."
David, my husband is very patient, giving me what I need by the PEG tube and I manage what I can by mouth. He makes special smoothies with RAW protein powder, supplemented by Nestle Resource 2 supplied to us by Peter Mac. Every day, I can feel my mouth and throat get a little better. I just want to go to sleep and wake up to find the bad dream is finished. I can eat. I can taste. I can swallow. Tomorrow, please.
PREPARING FOR A TRIP
I hope we are not too premature. Next week, we plan to go to Tasmania for a month before the two month review - to walk some long, unspoilt, quiet beaches and get strong again. I hope my mouth and throat make a dramatic improvement this week. The outside of my neck is almost healed
We ventured to Cinema Nova to see the delightfully magnificent Judy Dench in Victoria and Abdul, on a quiet day. With only six others in the audience, I didn't feel too embarrassed by my occasional coughing and spluttering.
The Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre has been a great source of reading material, with newly released books quickly available. I've been making a list of my reading- is it random picks of new and old books, or is there a pattern? Will review that next time!
Lygon Lodge, 220 Lygon St is the perfect long stay accommodation, with sunny, north-facing rooms each with a balcony, kitchenette, comfortable Queen size bed, plenty of cupboard space, desk, wifi and a sofa bed. There is a range of rooms- single/ twin share, standard and larger suites. Given its proximity to Peter Mac Cancer Centre, it is very convenient and comfortable and with its friendly staff is the perfect home away from home. Lygon Street is famous for its wide range of delightful restaurants and shopping. There is peaceful green space close by, with just ten minutes to the Carlton Gardens next to the Melbourne Museum and the Royal Exhibition Building.
Thank you to family and friends who have visited, written to me and cheered me on! Getting there!
As a gentle provocateur of positive change,