Light at the end of the tunnel?

It is Sunday, March 22, 2015. 27 radiation sessions (out of 40) completed, and 5 (out of 6) chemo sessions completed. Progress!

Starting with the 26th radiation session this past Thursday, the scope of the beam has been reduced to only hit the left side of my neck, and the beam is more specifically focused on the two tumors.  The first 25 radiation sessions were designed to hit a larger area, from my mouth down to my upper chest, and the beam was delivered in two 360-degree sweeps. The point here was to hit the tumors, but also to snuff out any spreading that might have happened. The final 15 radiation sessions are all about finishing off the two known tumors. The beam now starts immediately above my head and rotates left until it stops directly behind my head, and then it comes back up again on the left side, making two 180-degree sweeps. This means a shorter treatment (maybe 8 minutes now vs. 10 minutes before), and about half as much total radiation dosage received each day.

With the reduced radiation field, I’m hoping that additional soreness and discomfort on the left side will be offset by a slow recovery on the right side. Swallowing has become more difficult over the last few days, but I have been able to continue to ingest both solid and liquid meals.  My goal is to take in 2300-2500 calories per day (on the high end on days when I swim), and this allows me to maintain my weight.  Salivary gland function has been okay (thanks, I’m sure, to the Pilocarpine 4x per day), but my saliva is now really starting to thicken up, which is rather annoying. Having water nearby at all times is a must, and I think I’m starting to desensitize my gag reflex.

I’m looking forward to the last of the chemo sessions this Wednesday. The chemo has continued to be quite tolerable, with no nausea and not too much fatigue.  Hopefully this last one will be the same.

Food continues to have no taste. I went to a head & neck cancer support group meeting this week at the hospital, and one of the ladies there (a 13-year survivor) said it took almost a year after treatments ended before she regained her sense of taste – ugh! I hope mine comes back much sooner. I never thought I’d miss taste this much!

I’ve settled into daily and weekly patterns that have helped me to cope, and have made the time go by more quickly. My doctors continue to tell me that I’m doing well. I’ve had enough energy and focus to continue working, albeit at a slower-than-normal pace. I continue to sleep well. And my spirits remain high.

An essential coping tool has been Tuesday night shows by the John K Band (aka DC Mystery Cats) at Gypsy Sally’s in Georgetown. This local band is at the top of my list of all-time favorites, and right around the time of my diagnosis they announced a six-week run of Tuesday shows starting on March 3rd and running through April 7th. I’ve been to the first three shows so far, and have four tickets each for the final three shows. Beautiful music, awesome venue, happy fans, and great friends. My temple. Here’s a little taste from the March 3rd show:


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2 Responses to Light at the end of the tunnel?

  1. J Simpson says:

    So glad to read that your spirits are still high. The John K Band clip is a great reminder of how much of a spirit lifter fun music can be, particularly live! Hang in there with the side effects. – Jennifer

  2. connie swymeler says:

    Sounds like you got this mostly behind you now. Great ! I really like the DC Mystery Cats. Thanks for sending a little taste. You haven’t lost your taste for good music!!!!!!! Love you and send hugs and good energy. Connie