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#201487 07-24-2022 03:44 PM
Joined: Jul 2022
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I am a new member, trying to get started. Computer skills are not great. I am dealing with oral squamous cell cancer for the 4th time, first occurrence being in 1986. Three previous treatments consisted of surgery only. This occurrence required extensive surgery in March 2022, including reconstructive surgery. Apparently some cancer remains and I am now starting radiation therapy. There has been a delay with this due to issues I had with a very heavy, tight and constricting mesh mask which made breathing almost impossible. A new mask, more open, has been made and treatment should resume in a day or two. I only had three previous treatments over 10 days ago and have had nausea, vomiting, headache and a thick sticky saliva in my mouth and throat which almost gags me. Since I am struggling with these treatments and side effects, I thought talking to someone who has had a similar experience would be helpful. I am not quite sure how this forum works. Please advise. Thank you. Sally Bouchaud


Sally L. Bouchaud
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Your message was clear, well posted, and you are using the message board support group properly.

Your experiences with radiation and it’s side effects are pretty much what we all experience as you go through the process. The tight fitting mask gets looser as the treatments go on, we all seem to lose some weight in the process. You will want to tell them if your new mask a couple weeks from now is allowing you to move your head around. That would not be good. You are being bombarded with lots of tiny streams of radiation that MUST hit and be confined to very precise areas, nowhere else. Being completely immobile in the mask is both a treatment and a safety issue.

Your doctors can prescribe meds to help with the nausea that should control that. Try to stay hydrated if you are throwing up. It is very easy to become clinically dehydrated from both a lack of desire to drink, and the water loss from vomiting. If you become dehydrated, they will end up having to give you fluids IV, and that means more time at the hospital.

The thick mucous is terrible. It happens to everyone. Gargling with baking soda and salt in water will help cut it and help you spit it out. But that’s a many times a day process. When you start developing mucocitis sores from the radiation in your mouth, that will also help ease the discomfort from them, but you will ultimately need pain meds to tolerate that.

Everything that you have mentioned so far seems to be pretty normal. I also became very lethargic the third week in and wanted to sleep away my days. Let your body do that. It’s going to be in constant repair mode and working hard to cope with the impact of the radiation. Do not let your eating change or decrease your healthy caloric intake each day. Your body needs those nutrients to deal with this. If you do not, or cannot keep you nutritional intake up, they will put you on a PEG feeding tube to facilitate eating. I had one from quite awhile, it was no big deal and allowed me to keep my weight up and stay nutritionally sound. Lots of people get them as swallowing gets to be very painful for most. It’s very individual and some people go through the whole process without one. But it’s only for a short time if you need one.

Hoping your journey is not overly complicated or problematic. You don’t want this process interrupted once you get going, that just sets everything back. So do your best to tough it out, before you know it it will be in your rear view mirror and life will begin to normalize again. B


Brian, stage 4 oral cancer survivor. OCF Founder and Director. The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.

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