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Coping with cancer of the tonsil

Grandparents and children sharing tips and stories

From Roy Romsey

Dealing with cancer seems to me to fall into three parts: being told you have cancer, which in my case was in the tonsil and in the lymph nodes of the neck. It was a very unsettling moment and I was in the realms of the unknown.

Secondly, dealing with the treatment for the cancer, in my case two operations to the tonsil and one operation to remove 26 lymph nodes - including neck muscle and jugular vein - this was followed by six weeks of radiotherapy. One had a feeling of total helplessness for which one could do nothing but be positive and trust in the skill and care of the hospital staff. Staying positive is key to everything.

Finally comes the 'getting better' and dealing with the 'after and side effects', of which I had 28. There was little information from the medical staff as to how long the effects would last. The immediate after effects were traumatic: skin burns, loss of saliva, tiredness, confusion, etc.

Twelve months have passed since I finished the treatments and the side effects are still with me, though slightly less so - mainly in the areas of exhaustion, difficulty in eating, loss of saliva, and weight loss. Staying positive with so little improvement is very trying. I have recently suffered a little depression which I am fighting off. My heart goes out to all those with cancer - keep positive, stay alive, beat the odds. We shall get better.

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Updated: 28 September 2009