Radioactive Man Update No.7

I had my latest monthly check up yesterday. The good news is that progress is fine; I’m learning to tolerate nasal exploration; my sore throat will eventually feel better, and I now have some artificial saliva products to aid digestion/mastication A.S. Saliva Orthana being one). The ‘not great’ news is that I learned a new word, and it is Lymphoedema:

“A swelling that develops because of a build-up of fluid in the body’s tissues. This happens when the lymphatic system, which normally drains fluid away, isn’t working properly.”

A side effect of the radiotherapy, Lymphoedema is a chronic swelling. That means it is a condition that never goes away because the causes can’t be reversed. In my case it manifests itself as a swelling under the chin/around the neck – let’s call it the ‘bullfrog’ effect. I originally thought it was the loose skin from my many previous chins, but as the swelling started to get harder, I thought it was probably something else – and indeed it is. However, there are a number of daily treatments which reduces the look of someone storing vast quantities of food in the neck, one of which is to slap it vigorously (in a chopping motion) for a few minutes a day. Now I’m sure I’ll get many volunteers to give me a daily slapping but don’t worry, I’ve got this one…

Apart from this, I’ve been doing some press work with Macmillan, and have also joined Macmillan Voices: these volunteers aim to use their experience to improve cancer services and raise awareness of the realities of living with cancer.  I’m not in any way unique: there are 300,000+ individuals a year who will be diagnosed with Cancer. Key to my recovery process was finding a method of communicating with others in the same situation. That’s where talking with friends, family and Macmillan’s comes into play. I cannot stress enough the need to keep in contact with the outside world; never hide away, and never be ashamed.

I’m consciously moving away from that mindset of ‘dealing with the cancer’ to one of ‘getting on with my life’ – with a spring in my step. Concentrating on the cancer is like believing that there’s only a past – attempting to let go and moving on is knowing that there’s a future full of potential ahead.

PS. 101 Uses for a Radiotherapy Mask, No.2 – sunglasses, headphones and shirt rack (or ‘pretend it’s a beach bum’):

DSC_3375

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10 thoughts on “Radioactive Man Update No.7

  1. Theo I have tonsil cancer recovering from having neck sliced. RT in about 6 weeks. How long post RT did you feel able to travel? Enjoyed blog! There is a long and numerous thread on cancer chat uk called branchial cyst.

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    • Hi Gary
      Thank you for the kind words – hope you’re bearing up okay. The first three weeks post RT & chemo were the worst, then you slowly start to feel more human. I was able to drive from day one, but no long distances. We actually went away to Spain and Morocco 8 weeks later. I was a bit weak, but with a bit of sunshine, rest and sweet mint tea I started to feel better. Getting back to the cold was a shock, but you do feel a little better each day!

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      • Theo thanks for prompt response. I have a 6 weekish recovery time prior to a holiday in Malta so Ill keep everything crossed. Mint tea a good hint. Did you get tube out before trip?

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  2. Hi Gary
    I did, 6 weeks after treatment ended. I’d stopped taking the Fresubin drinks and I could swallow enough to have it taken out. The consultant was happy to do it this early, but apparently some people prefer it to stay in place for longer. I couldn’t wait to see the back of it!

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    • Theo, thanks mate gives me some hope of making my holiday although the cycle around Gozo may prove ambitious. Apart from neck dissection and painful void where tonsil was feel great. Was training for marathon for a cancer charity when this happened. Thanks for taking the time. Good to find a guru who’s been through this. And that you can enjoy the occasional beer / glass of wine
      Will follow your progress. If I become a pain in ass with questions let me know!

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      • Hi Gary
        Please feel free to ask away at any time – I’m just happy that I can provide some useful pointers for
        others. Currently skiing in France – harder than I thought it would be after a year’s absence!

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      • Enjoy skiing my friend! Its great to see you have got active so quickly. I will be hopefully following your lead!

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  3. Hi Theo, found your blog purely by accident and having read through it all I can see your sense of humour is intact thank goodness. Having seen mum through her breast cancer treatment I can sympathise – at least she has finally realised that grey hair suits her, had no choice really that is how it grew back! Big hugs to you and Liz, Tracey (formerly Kornacki-King)

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    • Hi Tracey – good to hear from you! Yes, it’s been an interesting year, but I’m at least looking at the future with renewed confidence. Liz sends her love – hope you’re keeping well and active. best wishes, Theo

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