What happens next

I had an appointment with the oncologist yesterday to get an update and discuss the treatment to come.

As I think I’ve explained previously, once the surgeons opened me up they found the cancer was more extensive than anticipated, though it hadn’t reached my lymph glands. It pressed hard upon vital organs and though they removed all that was visible, it was deemed certain that remnants remained.

The oncologist explained that I would need six and a half weeks of radiotherapy tt counter this, plus one day a week of chemo. Radiotherapy by itself woukd reduce the chance of recurrence to one in tow; the chemo gave an extra 10% of protection – so, 60%.

I hoped for a bigger number than that, and I hoped to avoid chemo also, but you can’t argue science (despite the many who try).

She explained to me how it would go, including the side-effects. The first three weeks would be relatively okay. The remaining three weeks would be tough. By then I’ll have developed extensive mouth ulcers, which I’ll need painkillers (morphine) to manage, and preventing me from eating anything solid. I’ll look surnburnt. I might feel fatigue. I would lose my sense of taste, for up to two months after. And so on. If there is one plus, it seems unlikely I’ll lose any hair from chemo.

It doesn’t sound much much, but as it has to be there’s no point worrying about it. At least now, I have an end date in sight. Come the start of November I’ll be done. Just recovery.

I stuck around to have a mask moulded to my face for the radiotherapy. I wouldn’t do it for a laugh, but survived it.

I was back at the hospital today for a check-up by the ENT and plastics surgeons. By and large they express satisfaction at my progress. There are a couple of things though.

I can’t read without closing my right eye. The page swims otherwise. I’m hoping that it’s because of the swelling and it will improve when it subsides (which is months away – the radiotherapy will make it worse). The surgeon thinks it might, but we have to wait and see.

Otherwise, when I drink a part of it is coming out of my right nostril. The plastics surgeon says it may close over in time as healing continues. Otherwise, a small procedure may be required down the track. It’s a disconcerting experience.

In general, I am feeling stronger than when I last wrote. In the last couple of days my stamina and mobility has improved, and I’m getting many fewer dizzy spells. It still feels bloody uncomfortable, and I’m not willing to venture out of the house yet – but expect that in a weeks time I’ll feel more able.

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