Hi, my name is Kerry and I am 41 years old. I was diagnosed with stage three throat cancer in October 2009. I had a 3 cm tumor on my lymph node with the primary cancer on my tonsils. Three days later I had a radical neck dissection that removed 14 lymph nodes and my tonsils. I was traumatized, everything happened so fast! My scar was horrible, I felt like Frankenstein. After recovering from my surgery, I did six weeks of radiation at The James Cancer Hospital at OSU in Columbus Ohio. Before I started my treatments, the doctors recommended removing all of my teeth. I was 37 years old, I was mortified! I refused. I did have some critical extractions but kept most of my teeth. It was an irrational decision. I did my course of treatment and my scan in July of 2010 showed I was cancer free! Recovering from the treatments was the most difficult thing I had ever done in my life. I lost 33 pounds and shriveled to 103 pounds. Recovery has been long, I still am struggling to regain weight and strength. To complicate it even worse I realized that after a year fighting to keep my teeth was futile. They needed to be removed. Radiation had destroyed my saliva glands which accelerated decay. There was no saving them, but I had to wait to have anything done about it. So I did. In May 2013 I started a course of 30 hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments to promote healing of radiated tissue and bone so I could have the surgery. After the first 20 treatments I had 21 teeth removed. I am finishing the final 10 treatments, my last being July 1st. Even though I hated the idea of having no teeth, I hated the pain even more. I will have a beautiful smile again after I heal up. I have learned that there is only so much one can except, but also that pain trumps vanity. With the love and support of my daughter, family, and friends I have accepted that there are things I cannot control. Being healthy is what really matters. In hind sight I should have asked more questions and been more rational about my situation. In the end I beat cancer! It hasn’t beat me, I fought like a girl and I won! July 2013 is three years cancer free!
The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.