A year out….


What a difference a year makes

What a difference a year makes! Maybe not a day, but a year does change things for the better.

May 28th 2020 was my final radiation session, so one year 2 days ago. Last night, because my six monthly examinations are due this coming week, I posted on Facebook for the first time in a long time. I also read some of my old blogs and a year has certainly eased some of the awful memories I had of my treatment.

Starting at Autumn last year, I started picking up some website work and that helped me get back into the swing of things. I took on a project at a rock-bottom price to help a start-up and also help me to start designing again.

Last year took a toll on me and I was suffering with depression, anxiety and panic attacks - none of which I recommend to anyone! I saw my doc and went onto Prozac for a while to help calm myself and I stayed on the drug for a while until I felt better able to cope with things.

What I had been through was bad enough, but poor Linda who suffered an horrific  burn to her right leg and foot in an accident at work, was also in a bad way and unable to work for something like two months. Her burns were awful.

What a pair we made...

Come Christmas I gave up trying to eat real food. Eating was almost impossible due to the lack of saliva. My taste buds were still shot to pieces and it became a real chore to chew away on 'food', which eventually turned to be like cardboard and unable to swallow it.

With a little experimentation, Linda came up with a great smoothie which I still drink to this day.

The base is cornflakes which are soaked in milk. Then strawberry/banana Greek yogurt is added along with whey protein, apple, melon, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, spinach (got to have my greens!) and maybe a few more things I've forgotten. All this is then blended and the end result is a healthy, filling  smoothie of which I drink one at breakfast time and two at dinner time. For lunch I have a couple of Ensure high protein shakes and a yogurt. In the evening I eat another yogurt and ice cream.

It works for me and my blood labs have been fantastic and my weight steady at around 156-157 lbs (71Kgs), or 11 stone in old money!

I had a PET scan towards the end of the year and got the all clear after that.

Now, six months later it is that time again and I have to go see my radiologist on Tuesday, where no doubt he will order another PET scan, and the following Tuesday I go and see my ENT doc for a visual examination of my throat.

I don't think my cancer has returned but it is always a rather worrying time until the results come in.

Throat-wise, things have got a lot better but there is still a long way to go. As I mentioned I don't produce enough saliva to be able to eat. My taste buds work minimally, unless there is anything spicy when they go berserk, and I have constant nasal drip which is both annoying and concerning.

The lack of saliva leads to another problem, which is tooth decay and  this year I need dental work which is going to end up being very costly.

Talking of costs.....for those who read this in the UK, please bless the NHS! OK, I got lucky last year and through a friend, found a wonderful lady who was able to get me on an insurance plan. My only outlay was $1600 towards the cost of my treatment. My medical bills amounted to $427,000 - yes, over four hundred thousand dollars which is frightening. Had I not got the insurance, I don't know what the outcome would have been.

I am beginning to doubt whether I will ever fully recover from the radiation treatment. I am beginning to doubt whether I will ever eat real food again. I help out on a Facebook group which is all about Head and Neck cancer and I posted on there about the issues I was still having and someone replied to say that he was 9 years out of treatment and still couldn't eat.

It sometimes feels like we need a support group not just for cancer survivors but for radiation survivors - the treatment is that bad!

I'll post again once I get my test/exam results back - so in the next couple of weeks.

Thanks for reading and thanks for all the support and encouragement on the Facebook page 🙂

As an aside, Linda and myself have been blessed with 2 new grandchildren this year - Alfie and Max, who live in the UK. We are hoping to get over there,  maybe at the end of this year to see them, Covid and finances allowing.




to be continued