The FIRST Anniversary

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The Head and Neck Cancer site is a labor of love. Cancer first reared it's head (just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak) in January of 2001 when Michael, my husband, noticed a lump on the left side of his neck. Here is a chronicle of our "adventures".

Winter 2001 - The Beginning
Spring 2001 - The Discovery
Summer 2001 - The Surgery
Fall 2001 - The Radiation
Winter 2002 - The New Beginning
Spring/Summer 2002 - The First Anniversary
Fall 2003/Winter 2004 - The Continuation
Spring/Summer 2004 - The Highs & The Lows
Fall 2004 - The End  11/30/04

Well, it's almost a year since Mike had his surgery and things are starting to feel more normal. Mike is eating many more foods now, albeit mostly those that are covered with syrup, sauce or gravy. He can manage a tender steak done medium. The shakes are helping get the weight back on. His taste is much better but not back to normal (whatever that was). Spicy foods burn his mouth and throat, mildly spicy foods build up and increase in intensity. Pancakes are very dependent on the cook and recipe while waffles are almost always good. French toast with thin bread, well egg-soaked and well cooked are also good. His tastes have changed and some foods that he loved no longer taste the same and he doesn't enjoy them. But all in all, as long as we keep Boost/Ensure on hand, he can easily supplement his somewhat limited diet.

Issues & Problems at 8 months Post Radiation
PAIN
SALIVA
TASTE
WEAKNESS
WEIGHT
FATIGUE
Some in neck area, stiff and "woody"
Reduced, but better than expected
Much improved but things taste different
Left side is weaker, still hope to increase
Slowly gaining, thanks to the shakes
Much better, almost pre-surgery level
Mike's fatigue is much better and his sleep pattern is generally good. He still notices the weakness in the left shoulder area and is disappointed that this has not improved, in fact it seems to have gotten worse. The entire area, including the neck, is still numb and will remain so. The edge of the numbness on his back itches a lot - nerve dance we guess. The left side of his neck has become very "woody" and hard. This makes it difficult to check for changes but is a result of the radiation and surgery.

All doctor checkups have gone well but we know this beast must be monitored closely. Since our move to a new location (PA to FL), Mike now has a new ENT and is on an every other month schedule. CT scans and MRIs will be done every six months along with all the blood work that was being done before.

So all in all, things are going quite well but we have finally realized that the ENT surgeon was right when he told us last year that it would be at least a year before Mike started to feel like his old self.

NEXT:  Fall 2003/Winter 2004 - The Continuation


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