The home stretch

It is Sunday, April 5th. It has been two weeks since my last post. I found out between then and now that I will have 42 radiation treatments, not 40. I’ve had 37 so far, and will have my last five this week.  The final chemo treatment (six of six) was 10 days ago.

I continue to feel pretty good. As expected, the right side of my neck is starting to look and feel better, and the left side continues to get more sore and painful (as discussed previously, my radiation oncology team has been focusing the radiation beam on the left side of my neck/throat for the last couple of weeks). On the left side, the pain/discomfort appears to be mostly limited to the throat tumor itself, which is great. What this translates into is painful swallowing – at this point, my pain level while swallowing ranges from 4 to 5 (out of 10), and the rest of the time, it’s more like a 2.  So not bad in the scheme of things.

The secondary tumor (visible on the left side of my neck) is not at all painful, but apparently this is because there aren’t any significant nerve endings in the lymph system. It has gotten much smaller since treatments started, and is now probably one-third of its original volume.

My head & neck cancer surgeon told me 10 days ago that (a) he could no longer feel the tumor in my throat (after he shoved his hand down my throat!), and (b) I should expect him to recommend the removal of the affected lymph nodes in my neck if there’s any kind of lump remaining in about two months’ time.  The idea, as I understand it, is that leaving the lymph nodes behind could allow just one remaining cancerous cell in that area to start the whole nasty process over again.

I continue to swim almost every day, and I think that has helped my healing and general sense of well-being. I have limited myself to 15 minutes at a relatively easy pace – every calorie I burn needs to be replaced and that isn’t always easy. I try to eat a solid meal at least once a day (dinner, usually), but most of the rest of my calories come from Ensure Plus (350 calories in an 8 oz. bottle) and Protein Plus (160 cal. in 11 oz., with 30 grams of protein). I buy these by the case at Costco.

Salivary function continues to be okay.  I am experiencing a mild form of dry mouth, but I always have water with me and frequent sips make a big difference. All of my doctors tell me that I’m doing much better than the average patient at this stage in the treatment process. Hopefully I’ve come close to hitting the bottom, and will start feeling better within a week or two of radiation ending.

The John K Band shows have been great, and the finale is this coming Tuesday night.

More soon. I am doing well.

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3 Responses to The home stretch

  1. Brenda says:

    Awesome Sean! Home Stretch…….So happy for you!

  2. Shannon & Benjamin says:

    Such good news. Benjamin has found that Biotenne (SP?) helped dry mouth.

  3. Amy and Jim Norris says:

    Great news! Thank you for the update.