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#147162 - 03/15/12 06:51 PM Notes From The Other Side
Michelle Ann Offline
Senior Member (100+ posts)

Registered: 01/17/11
Posts: 168
Loc: Massachusetts
Last year at this time, when I was enduring the worst of my treatment, I vowed that I would continue to go on this site and post whenever I could because I got so much help from others, especially from those who had made it to the other side. During those last days of treatment and into the first few weeks of recovery I was convinced that I wasn't going to ever see that other side. I got so much strength and hope from people who had been there. Since summer, I have not been very faithful to my pledge to stay in touch, but I am trying. Today I had my monthly laryngoscopy and all is well. Now that I have begun year two, I will have them every other month. A few weeks ago, I had my first annual CT Scan and that is clear. Blood work has shown hypothyroidism, but I am on a med for that and it is a predictable result of radiation. Why am I posting? To show that the other side exists. No matter how hard treatment is, you will get through it. Someone here told me to have patience. Oh how that was hard to hear but the best advice I got. If you are still in treatment, have patience; if you have begun recovery; have patience. Someone here said that he, after half a dozen years, barely remember that he went through this horrible disease. I am not there yet. Recovery was slow for me, painfully (literally) slow for me. My mouth is still always dry; eating is still hard if not soups and stews and ice cream; my neck is tender and my throat is still full of scar tissue and, for lack of a better word, gunk. Overall, though, life on the other side is good. I wish you all, no matter where you are today with your struggles, an abundance of blessings. -Michelle
SCC left tonsil, stage IV, HPV+, metastatic to one lymph node. Biopsy 12/23/10; tonsillectomy 1/13/11; DX 1/25/11; Peg in 1/28/11. Peg out 6/29. TX 1/31/11-3/21/11: 35 IMRT plus 3 Cisplatin. Pet-Scan 6/20/11 = CLEAR! Three years out, learning to live with the long-term side effects of radiation while reminding myself to feel blessed.

#147169 - 03/15/12 08:22 PM Re: Notes From The Other Side [Re: Michelle Ann]
EricS Offline
Patient Advocate (1000+ posts)

Registered: 01/03/09
Posts: 1844
Loc: Idaho
Great post Michelle, thanks for sharing your experience and hope!

Young Frack, SCC T4N2M0, Cisplatin,35+ rads,ND, RT Mandiblectomy w fibular free flap, facial paralysis, "He who has a "why" to live can bear with almost any "how"." -Nietzche "WARNING" PG-13 due to Sarcasm & WAY too much attitude, interact at your own risk.

#148072 - 04/11/12 03:11 AM Re: Notes From The Other Side [Re: EricS]
Caco Offline
Senior Member (100+ posts)

Registered: 06/24/11
Posts: 188
Loc: eastern us
CG to Dad. Biopsy 5/11 non-op, SCC stage IV poorly dif at base of tongue with nodes, quit smoking in '85, ChemoRad began 8/2/11 ended 9/22/11 with NED. Distant mets 11/11, clinical trials. War raging on!

#148075 - 04/11/12 04:20 AM Re: Notes From The Other Side [Re: Caco]
ChristineB Offline
Administrator, Director of Patient Support Services
Patient Advocate (old timer, 2000 posts)

Registered: 06/23/07
Posts: 9429
Loc: PA
Very nice post, Michelle! Its very nice of you to remember to stop by and give others hope. I know recovery can seem like it takes forever and the improvements are not fast enough. Your post shows that even with some limitations, life after cancer can be good.

SCC 6/15/07 L chk & by L molar both Stag I, age44
2x cispltn-35 IMRT end 9/27/07, no caregiver
Clear PET 1/08
4/4/08 recur L chk Stag I
surg 4/16/08 clr marg
215 HBO dives
3/09 teeth out, trismus
7/2/09 recur, Stg IV
8/24/09 trach, ND, mandiblctmy
3wks medicly inducd coma
2 mo extended hospital stay, ICU & burn unit
PICC line w/ IV antibiotics 8 mo
10/4/10, 2/14/11 reconst surg
OC 3 times in 3 years
very happy to be alive smile

#148101 - 04/11/12 03:55 PM Re: Notes From The Other Side [Re: ChristineB]
Cheryld Offline
"OCF Canuck"
Patient Advocate (old timer, 2000 posts)

Registered: 12/22/10
Posts: 5260
Loc: Toronto canada
Hugs girl despite it all you are doing great, and most importantly - HERE!! I'm on your heals. I started rads March 17 - finished May 4th last year... ;o)
Cheryl : Irritation - 2004 BX: 6/2008 : Inflam. BX: 12/10, DX: 12/10 : SCC - LS tongue well dif. T2N1M0. 2/11 hemigloss + recon. : PND - 40 nodes - 39 clear. 3/11 - 5/11 IMRT 33 + cis x2, PEG 3/28/11 - 5/19/11 3 head, 2 chest scans - clear(fingers crossed) HPV-, No smoke, drink, or drugs, Vegan

#148107 - 04/11/12 05:30 PM Re: Notes From The Other Side [Re: Cheryld]
Kerri Offline
"Above & Beyond" Member (500+ posts)

Registered: 08/08/11
Posts: 592
Loc: MA
Congrats, Michelle!

Thank you for sharing your view from the other side of the mountain. I think it's so important for others, especially new members, that you will get there eventually!

I am from Tewksbury, MA. May I ask where you had your treatment? I had mine at Mass Eye & Ear and Mass General.

So happy for you!

37 y/o fem at Dx (23 wks preg @ dx on 3/16/11)
SCC L oral tongue (no risk factors)
L partial gloss/MND 3/28/11 @ 25 wks preg
T1-2N0M0; no rads/chemo
Tonsillectomy on 8/6/12 +SCC L tonsil T2-3N1M0 (HPV-)
Treated with 35 rads/7 carbo & taxol (Rx ended 10/31/12), but many hospitalizations d/t complications from rx.
Various scans since rx ended are NED!
Part of genetic study for rare cancers @ MGH.
42 years old now...I wasn't sure I would make it! Hoping for 40 more!

#148153 - 04/12/12 04:27 PM Re: Notes From The Other Side [Re: Kerri]
David2 Offline
Patient Advocate (1000+ posts)

Registered: 07/12/09
Posts: 1358
Loc: Los Angeles
Terrific, Michelle. I could almost have written it, as our experiences have been similar. So glad to hear you're thriving!
David 2
SCC of occult origin 1/09 (age 55)| Stage III TXN1M0 | HPV 16+, non-smoker, moderate drinker | Modified radical neck dissection 3/09 | 31 days IMRT finished 6/09 | Hit 7 years all clear in 6/16

#148228 - 04/13/12 11:24 PM Re: Notes From The Other Side [Re: David2]
bbagby Offline
Contributing Member (25+ posts)

Registered: 07/04/11
Posts: 25
Loc: North Carolina
I think the main theme of Michelle's comment is this: You WILL get through it. I had my hell last year starting about now and spent the rest of spring and all of summer wanting to die. I just couldn't stand the pain and misery I was experiencing. Yet, each day I kept trying to save myself. In my blog ( I remember saying that my friends and family cared more about me than I did. It was true. Yet, here I am almost a year from the end of treatment doing pretty well. I have no idea if the cancer will return or not but I live today for today and enjoy the life I have now. For everyone going through this: just hang in there. Things will be better.

Edited by bbagby (04/13/12 11:35 PM)
Diagnosed in March 2011. Treatment ended May 28, 2011. Back of tongue cancer with one lymph node(stage 4). Feeding tube 5 - 2011, to 9 - 2011. Some saliva and taste. Eating most foods; meat, fish and dry foods not so well. Swallowing pretty normal otherwise. Doing well now. The future? Who knows.

#148490 - 04/19/12 09:55 AM Re: Notes From The Other Side [Re: bbagby]
jonp Offline
"OCF Down Under"
Supporting Member (50+ posts)

Registered: 12/15/09
Posts: 63
Loc: Australia
stage 2 scc in left oral tongue. 32 at dx
removed 21/12/09 plus left neck dissection and upper arm flap.
clear pathology 24/12/09
active footballer/surfer
social drinker
lives stress-free!

#148508 - 04/19/12 06:32 PM Re: Notes From The Other Side [Re: jonp]
Barb Offline
"Above & Beyond" Member (300+ posts)

Registered: 05/27/05
Posts: 497
Loc: Ohio
How wonderful that you are doing well after 2 years. I suffered from dry mouth for a few years and it finally eased up. There is some kind of toothpaste, mouthwash and throat spray that helps that. Ask your ENT if you can use anything.
meanwhile enjoy each day and congratulations!
[i]"The artist, a traveler on this earth, leaves behind imperishable traces of his being." -Fran


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