Hey Hey The cancer treatments are designed to attack fast replicating cells in your body (like cancer), but so targetted they also can damage your vision, hearing, taste, libido, pretty much every apparatus you use to engage and enjoy the world. That's cancer for you - it doesn't just want to take your life, it wants to take your QUALITY of life too. My vision started to decline after chemo (whereas previously it had been perfect, zero issues), and there may be subtle hearing impairment too (with the tinnitus, everything gets a bit drowned out anyways). I couldn't say definitively whether it's not a natural decline after coincidentally hitting the jackpot age where the downhill slide starts ... but yeah, I reckon the chemo played a big part in my vision decline, and probably your hearing too. (Cisplatin) What I'd urge you to do, if you had radiation for head & neck cancer - vigilantly care for your teeth. The way radiation interacts with bone is a bit different, and you notice a sharp and awful decline in your dental health suddenly after 3-4 years out from treatment .. so be as diligent as you can with dental care. Sorry mate, yeah, you're going to find side effects cropping up not just in the short term, but later on as well, just have to roll with it.
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Hi GeoffAHollick, I’m so very sorry to hear about your diagnosis. Sorry I was unsure from your message if you were meeting with the surgeon for just a consultation this week or they had actually booked you in for surgery already? So I do apologise if this information is no longer helpful to you! Well I think everyone’s experience is a bit different but for me after my colonoscopy I was referred to a surgeon to discuss what type of surgery I would require, they were also able to provide me with an idea of if I would need a bag or likely to need chemo etc and we’re able to schedule a date for surgery once I decided to proceed. I then met a nurse and anesthesiologist a day or so before my surgery just to make sure I was well enough to go ahead with the surgery and to discuss anything I needed to do to prepare for it (But they will of course check you over again on the day!). For my surgery I was told I didn’t have to do the full bowel prep as you do before the colonoscopy which was a pleasant surprise. So hopefully you’ll have the same luck! As Lolie mentioned unfortunately some of the diagnostic testing isn’t always 100% accurate but once the surgeon does operate they’ll do a thorough examination and you’ll hopefully have a lot more answers. They will also probably send some biopsy’s away to confirm the suspected diagnosis. I found in my situation it did take a little while for the Pathology results to come back (around a week but I guess it depends how busy they are). I stayed in hospital just over a week but I think it’s a very individual thing as it depends on the surgery you have and how you’re recovering but regardless they will want to make sure everything is back up and running and your well enough before they send you home. I found my stay in hospital to be quite comforting so I hope your experience is the same. Just having the nurses and specialist checking on you regularly and at hand to answer questions or concerns was very reassuring. So once you receive your biopsy results they should then be able to discuss any further treatment you may require and refer you to any other specialist such as oncologist or radiologist if needed. I hope this information has been some what helpful. I’m so very sorry you have to go through such an ordeal GeoffAHollick and I wish you all the very best for your surgery. Take care. Kind Regards Bianca
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Hi Wyandra, Thank you for your message! I’m so very sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I’m glad to hear you have a wonderful treatment team at the hospital though! I also found my treatment team to be incredibly kind and compassionate people. It certainly helps having a good support network around! I was actually diagnosed at the very end of July so had my surgery in mid August and started chemotherapy in September. I’m just finishing my 6th cycle so hopefully I’ll only have 2 more cycles to go! I know everyones experience is different but if I can provide you with any reassurance the chemotherapy for me definitely hasn’t been anywhere near as bad as I anticipated. I was absolutely terrified at the prospect of doing chemotherapy. I think it terrified me more than when I was told I had cancer but that was because I knew so little about it so was basing my knowledge off what I was reading on the internet and on television. It’s such a scary thing because you hear so much horrible stuff about chemotherapy. I remember when the triaging oncologist came to speak with me the very first thing he asked was “so what do you know about chemotherapy?” Looking back now I can see why he asked this question because chemotherapy really does have such a hellish reputation and I guess he knew this needed to be addressed. My response was “not a lot. I know you feel very sick and lose your hair”. He was so calm and reassuring. He said that the type of chemo I would be on it would be unlikely for me to lose my hair although it could thin a little and that they have excellent anti nausea medication these days (very true!), many of which are specifically for cancer patients and not generally accessible to others. He told me about a couple of side effects but assured me that they would monitor me throughout the treatment process and do everything they could to make the journey as comfortable and easy as possible (which they have definitely done!). I felt so much better after speaking with him, I went from feeling very apprehensive and scared to calm. He asked if I had anymore questions and at the time I couldn’t think of anything but after he left and I had time to absorb everything, other questions began to pop up and of course I turned to Dr Google (bad idea!). Silly me! I worked myself into such a state again reading about chemotherapy that I no longer believed anything the oncologist had told me. I just thought all these people Im reading about have gone through chemotherapy so they know what it’s like and he must have just told me those things so I didn’t panic. I now know there is A LOT of old and irrelevant information online regarding Chemotherapy! These days it is a very tailored treatment. Your oncologist will take in many factors when considering the type of chemotherapy you need, how it’s administered, how often, over what period of time, the dosage, what other medication you might need to counteract any side effects you might have and so on. You will meet regularly with your oncologist to discuss how you’re managing your treatment and what symptoms you’ve had and how they can ease them. When you’re first diagnosed you have a million questions and want answers then and there but try to avoid google (I know it’s sooo hard!) but your specialists will have the best and most relevant information for your particular situation. I was given the same advise by a fellow cancer patient when I was just about to begin chemotherapy and I didn’t listen. It’s difficult not to google because you have so many questions constantly popping into your head and when you do see the specialist they usually have very limited time but reading information online can lead you up the garden path. The other thing to consider is that people often tend to comment when they’ve had a bad experience but not so much when they’ve had a better experience. A useful tip I was given was to keep a symptoms diary and medicine log. The symptoms diary is helpful as you get an idea of what symptoms happen and at what stage of your cycle. Example; you might notice that you feel tired on days 6-7 so you know not to plan any outings. It also helps when you see your oncologist as you can detail what symptoms you’ve been having and they will then be able to address them. I also made a spreadsheet which listed all the medications I take and a box for morning, noon and night so I can just tick them off as I go. Anyway I hope I’ve managed to ease your concerns a little about the chemotherapy and I apologise for the long reply! It really is quiet mentally overwhelming especially at the start so if I can be of any help or reassurance please don’t hesitate to contact me! I wish you all the very best for your treatment Wyandra! Take care!! Kind Regards Bianca
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Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.