“OK, doc…  Give it to me straight!”

Alright, I didn’t say it quite like that – but I did ask the consultant radiologist at Blackburn Hospital to be honest with me during our meeting to discuss my cancer treatment this afternoon.

He certainly did that.  And then some.

ENT sign

My treatment will most likely begin the week after next, when I will have to attend five radiotherapy sessions per week – Monday to Friday – at Royal Preston Hospital.  On one of those days – most likely Wednesday – I’ll be treated with chemotherapy as well.

It’s an all out attack on the cancer in my system.

But, there are one or two things that need to be done first…

I had dental x-rays taken at the hospital last week and, today, I saw the ENT department’s resident dental surgeon for a check-up.  He explained that radiotherapy can and will attack the teeth of cancer patients – although no-one knows exactly why.

The challenge is to identify any weaknesses in the teeth before treatment begins to minimise complications afterwards.  The result – I’ve got one dodgy tooth that will be removed next week.

I also have two baby teeth left with no adult versions queued up behind them, but they’re staying for the time being.

The dentist went into a lot of detail.  He told me that the radiotherapy will effectively kill my lower jaw, but that it will take years to die.  As a result, I may suffer from dental problems for the rest of my life.

There’s a happy thought.

I also have to have a metal cage/mask moulded to fit my head before I can have my radiotherapy.  They showed me a sample.  At first, I hoped I was being fitted for some kind of titanium body armour (well, normal guy plus radio waves does equal superhero), but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

I also have to have a feeding tube inserted through my skin and directly into my stomach.  The reason, because it won’t be too long before I can’t drink, chew or swallow.  So, I’ll need to be fed liquids through my tube.

Oh boy.

“You’re going to be ill,” the consultant told me.  “Very ill.”  In fact, he went on to say that, no matter how bleak and horrible he makes this sound, it’s going to be at least a hundred times worse.

Here are a few highlights…

  • You’ll feel like you’ve got sunburn on the inside.
  • The outside of your neck will burn and blister.
  • After a week or two, you won’t be able to drive.  Or work.
  • Or talk.

“If there was any alternative to what you’re about to go through,” he said, “I would urge you to take it.  I would tell you to run now, and not look back.”

“But, there isn’t an alternative.  You have to go through this.”

I have to admit – I like him.

But, wow…

Would anyone mind if I crapped my pants?

Six weeks of radio and chemo, followed by at least a three month recuperation period.  Then speech therapy and further dental work, if necessary.

There goes 2016.

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  1. Oh Tommy, that sucks big time. That bloody disease ….

    I know how it feels, to have a tube in your throat. I’m not going to lie, it’s not pleasant. But, believe it or not, you get used to it.

    Big hug from the other side of the pond,



  2. A few years ago I had my uvula, tonsils and soft palette removed. The consultant told me I’d have a sore throat for “a few days”. That was the understatement of the century. When I went back to see him, he more or less admitted that he’d lied and that he knew it would be painful. I would much rather he had told me the truth.

    The thing to tell yourself is … that people have been through this and got to the other side. Hang on to that thought no matter how bad it gets.


  3. Flipping ‘eck Tommy! Got to say I’m terrified just reading about it. It’s good your consultant was truthful even though I’m guessing you did not want to hear that. What can you do? You’re just going to have to go with it. Try not to think about it before hand and just take it one step at a time. Baby sized chunks to go with yoour baby teeth. I can’t believe that! Baby teeth?! Focus on the autumn, plan a trip, look forward to getting yourself back together and tucking it away in the past.
    One baby step at a time.


  4. I’m so sorry you have to go through this


  5. I’m so sorry, Tommy. But you’ve got so much to live for – go for it. You can do it; you will come out the other end! xx


  6. To hell with being able to climb walls and have spider strength, the one superpower we want you to get out of this is the best one of all – survival.


  7. I like the sound of your consultant. He’s straight and not giving you a rose tinted glasses version of what will go on.
    It’s not always good to hear things straight and to the point, but you can get yourself geared up in your head.
    Knowing you, you’ll face this head on, and remember there’s a lot of support for you.
    Thinking of you mate.


  8. Just take each minute at a time Tommy, you can do that, just sixty seconds at a time. And there’ll be drugs. Pain killers. Bat shit crazy pain killers. Take them. Take every pain killing thing they offer you xxx


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