(Part 9) one year later- spring 2016

Well fans...Our Hero has made it. 2 CT scans later and 4 or so check ups and apparently I'm cancer free. The only thing that sucks is I now have tinnitus and the saliva hasn't really come back. Nothing you can do for tinnitus. I'm getting used to drinking water all the time, it still sucks for sleeping because I wake up quite often and need a sip of water...Oh well...Still alive. And thats something to be celebrated! My weight has come back up but I don't want to gain too much more because I always wanted to lose 20 pounds (if you would also like to lose weight just ask me how). 

Some foods still don't taste that good, especially pop...but that crap isn't good for for you anyway. If anything new happens I'll let you all know. 

Miigwech to my lovely wife Leanne for doing the research and helping me to kick cancer in its a$$!

(Part 8) simmer down

The treatment was over but the next month and a half had to have been the worst. Couldn't really eat because of the pain. The skin around my next was pretty burnt and I had an area on the back of my hair line which was radiated thus no hair.  Despite what the doctors said about not taking vitamins I started to vitamin up as best I could. Lots of smoothies and veggie soups. NO meat or dairy. Just lots and lots of veggies, grains, and some beans if I could eat them. Don't forget to take turkey tail mushrooms. I won't get into it but a lot of various mushroom supplements help with cancer. I was also drinking Chaga tea, dandelion root tea, turmeric milk and whatever holistic cancer fighting crap my wife and I could get our hands on. (spoiler alert... I'm doing quite well now. Thanks Leanne)

Near the end of January 2015 I started to get food cravings. One of the first solids was peanut butter on toast (lightly toasted) . Don't know why but the body wanted it. Next came steak. Just had to have one even though i knew it wasn’t really good for me.

There was one spot on the back of my mouth and tongue that still hurt for quite some time I believe it went on for about 5 months. The doctor said it was just scar tissue. Whatever... It eventually stopped hurting.  

In February 2015 I went to the dentist to see what the damage to my teeth was and if any cavities due to No freakin' saliva... So far so good. One tiny cavity that was there before and a general cleaning. I later found out from my wife that they could do a special coating to help prevent cavities (not just fluoride) which have since been getting... So far so good. 

Treatment over,but the pain goes on (part 7 december24, 2014)

The end is near...

It worked out that my last treatment was December 24,2014.when you're done at radiation they have this bell you ring... I did not feel like ringing any stupid bell. I was tired as heck. the skin around my neck hurt, my throat hurt. I just felt really beat up. WooHoo Merry Christmas. I gave some Tim's cards to my radiation buds because I'm a nice guy. It all seemed really anticlimactic. I went for my treatment as usual and left as I always did, I just didn't have to go back anymore. It was kind of sad in a weird sort of way. It had become part of my daily routine. But I did have the knowledge that for the next 3-6 weeks the radiation was going to keep cooking me like a Pizza pop out of the microwave. the next month was Nasty.

(Part 6 December 2014) this is starting to suck!

2nd round of chemo not nearly as much fun as the first. My energy level was starting to wane and my ability to eat was taking a dive due to the radiated mouth swallow thingy. My lovely wife and her nutritionist friend Nena (who flew in from Toronto to help) cooked up some mellow soups and mushy Vegan high protein/nutrient rich foods. Mmmm. Baby food. No Animal products for me. My wife made me Kale smoothies and something called potassium soup made with buckwheat milk. It was actually okay.

I did eat baby food. Carrot juice, also pretty good. You have to imagine an open wound basically in my mouth so anything salty, or spicy was out. I couldn't really taste sugar so it was pointless plus with no saliva the chance of tooth decay was way up. Sugar free candy or gum was ok but not too minty. I ate quite a bit of congee (Chinese rice soup/mush). I have had a life times worth of congee and am now good. But it was good for a while ( thanks to Judy's mom for cooking) and its what saved me from getting a feeding tube.

I was also prescribed magic mouth wash by my radiation Doctor that has anti fungal stuff. Steroids I believe and pain killers. At first it worked ok. Swish it around for a bit then swallow, I could eat for about 10 minutes then it would get too painful again.

if you ever have mouth issues remember to not eat bananas. I may as well had a mouth full of razor blades. The fact that they are kind of pasty so they just stick and with no saliva to wash it away it was all bad. Way more acidic than you'd think. My taste buds were pretty much cooked by now so flavour wasn't an issue because there was none.

Dry mouth... The worst dry mouth ever. OMG. We picked up a humidifier which helped. The worst was sleeping. I'd wake up every hour or so and need water. Which also meant I'd wake up every couple of hours and need to pee. On the plus side I started to lose some weight. On the down side , I started to lose a lot of weight, really fast.

The pain killers started to be my friend. Unfortunately they didn't really work. I started with Tramaset. Meh! Then went to T3's,now that's a whole other story. They say they cause constipation. That's an understatement....

to be cont.... 


Chemo round 2

Chemo round 2

More treatment, let the side effects begin (pt.5)

Now I'm 3 weeks into the treatment.(November 2014) My taste buds are starting to not work, a little bit of hair loss but only around the radiation area and a slight ringing in the ears.  

My daughter took me out to Wendy's and I ordered the usual crap and I was totally disappointed in how it tasted. Mostly the fries. That was probably close to the last solid meal I would have for a while as my throat and back of my mouth were starting to hurt. Basically it was like eating with a really bad sun burn/open sores on the inside of your mouth.  

Another memorable food moment was watching tv with my wonderful wife and having some chips and dip. They tasted like crap. The texture was nasty. It was all bad. I really started to understand the importance of flavour in crap food. I thought to myself," there's really no point to eating this, it doesn't taste good and it honestly isn't good for me" my weight loss started to happen.  

Round 2 of the chemo was not as much fun. I was starting to get tired. I still took my laptop and watched a bit of Netflix but over all I was starting to burn out. I had went off work at this time and went on unemployment which is a joke, 16 weeks is all you get for sicky unemployment. I tried to work as long as I could but being outdoor work with winter coming and going into people's homes I was a little worried about getting sick now that my immune system was getting beat up. So... I had 16 weeks to finish treatment and get healthy enough to get back to work...No problem

Let the treatment begin (pt.4)

After filling my prescription of antiinausea meds It was off to cancer care for some radiation and chemo. 

Before the radiation I had to get fitted for a mask that basically holds your head down so that they can target more precisely. I have to say that if you're claustrophobic this is not for you. They take a warm plastic type thing and press it against your face to make a mold. It took about 20 minutes to harden. During that time they do a scan for the radiation targeting. After the whole mask making ordeal the radiation treatments only takes 5-10 minutes

Radiation selfie

Radiation selfie

Chemo is way more fun.

One round of chemo takes 3 days. Day 1 you get 2 hours of intravenous fluids followed by an hour of the chemo and then another 2 hours of fluids. 

Day 2 and 3 are just fluids because chemo is so evil that the extra fluids are necessary to keep the kidneys flushed. They also insist on drinking tons of water.  

My first round of chemo was chill. I brought my laptop and tethered to my phone and watched some Netflix and did some photo editing. It is just a lot of sitting around. I have to say that I never did get very nauseous. Not sure if it's just my iron stomach of because of the meds. So began my 7 week fun filled treatments.

Meet and Greet (pt.3)

This was the wonderful day I was to meet all the specialists. It first started by meeting all the docs in a room but they started and finished before tthe wife and I even got there.  

Radiation guy. This was Dr. Cook ( funny name for a radiation guy). basically 7 weeks of radiation to look forward to. 5 days a week,twice in a day if there is a holiday or maintenance. He's also a fan of sticking a small camera up my nose and down my throat to check stuff out.

Chemo lady. Nice lady. 3 rounds of Cisplatin on the menu with a big list of side effects. Also a prescription of 3 different kinds of meds to stop me from puking. I was cheerily oblivious.

The dentist... "Why the heck do I need to see a dentist" I asked. "Because we may need to pull some teeth", they said. F'n wonderful. Apparently this type of cancer is most common with smokers and drinkers and rotten teeth comes with that. (I have never smoked). Luckily nothing had to get pulled but long term there may be some wonderful side effects that's cause my teeth to suffer.... Wheeeee! Another bonus

The nutritionist: her good news was eat lots now because you may not be able to later and if you lose too much weight you get a feeding tube. Not much about nutrition really. But thats okay…my wife had that covered. She already had a plan Also use lots of moisturizer cause your face will be cooked. And stretch your jaw muscles because they will also suffer. Plus brush your teeth plenty because you won't have much saliva and your teeth will decay much faster. Saweet!

2 weeks later the party started

How I found out I had cancer ( Pt 1 )

A lot of people ask me how I knew I had cancer. I guess people are curious and also would like to know what symptoms they should look out for. You always hear of that person that goes undiagnosed for years and then BAM...cancer.

I had oropharyngeal cancer or cancer on the back of my tongue.

For me it began in the summer of 2014. I was on a road trip with My friend Norm and his family. I was sitting in the back seat with the seat belt on and I noticed that there was a tightness in my throat (the seat belt sat a little high). I figured that was odd but not a big deal. Over the next few months I would notice that when swallowing food would sometimes hang up in my throat and need an extra shot of water to get it down. With the insistence of my lovely wife I finally dragged my butt to the doctor.

He couldn't actually see anything and figured maybe swollen glands so we did some blood tests for that...Those came back negative. Then was a referral to a ear,nose and throat specialist...thats where the fun begins...

Welcome to Cancer Care (Pt 2)

Before I ended up at Cancer Care I had a CT scan. Wheeeee! Honestly as far as tests go it wasn't that bad. A week or so later was my meeting with Dr. Pathak and friends at Cancer Care(there's usually interns tagging along). At this point I was oblivious of what's to come.

So they sat me down and said "something something mass on base of tongue...something something and a couple lymph nodes…4 cm...try to reduce it to operate and remove it…blah blah blah. Well that sucks I thought to myself. I texted my wife who was at work and informed her I had a touch of cancer, cause thats how I like to think of it. She scooted down right away and hung out with me even though I told her I was good but honestly I was glad she came down. 

Next step was a biopsy, Apparently the cancer I had is pretty fast moving so the doc rushed me in...by rushed I mean within a week which in Manitoba is REALLY fast. I'd say overall the biopsy wasn't too bad but afterwards I had some discomfort. I'm guessing they had tubes in my nose and throat because they were quite raw and for a couple days later the top of my lungs were sore probably from whatever breathing gadget they had shoved in there while they poked away at my tongue and throat.

A week later was another meeting at Cancer Care where we got to discuss the treatment...

Back to work slacker

Well folks. My fun with cancer is pretty much done, now it's back to work. I was toying with writing about my journey in the hopes it will help others. Mine was not the worst of cancers but I have to say the treatment sucks and now I'm recovering from the "cure". Pretty much most of what I researched on the web for my kind of treatment was pretty gloomy that's why I figured I'd throw my 2 cents into the ring.