Deanne on treatment

Deanne sitting in a hospital waiting room reading with her young daughter.
Deanne sitting in a hospital waiting room reading with her young daughter.

After Deanne was diagnosed with throat cancer, she went through intensive radiotherapy as well as chemotherapy (chemoradiation). Before her treatment Deanne had a PEG tube fitted to minimise the struggle of eating when her course had finished. She found that this turned out to be a good decision. 

Deanne's story

We had a conversation soon afterwards about the treatment plan. The consultant took me through the process and the options.

I actually started the treatment about a month and a bit after the diagnosis. I started right off with radiotherapy. They showed me the mask that I would have to wear on my face for radiotherapy, and it looked like something from a horror film. That was really unnerving, but she explained everything and that made me feel better. Afterwards they asked me if I wanted to keep the mask, I really didn't want to be anywhere near it. 

They also warned me that my throat would feel sore, but at first I felt okay and was a bit in denial that things would get worse. Then my throat started to get really painful.

Prior to the operation I had a PEG tube fitted as a friend of mine warned me that sometimes things could be so bad that people couldn't face eating. So I did it just in case. It turned out to be the right decision. 

I had 35 sessions in total and the whole thing took about seven weeks, including two sessions of chemotherapy. The radiotherapy side-effects were terrible. The chemotherapy was fine in comparison, though I was constantly being sick from the chemo and had heart burn. I had some hair loss , but not much. But the radiotherapy was so bad that I was in a lot of pain and would struggle and couldn't eat. 

Once the treatment had finished it was actually worse. I couldn't swallow and just couldn't do much at all because I was in so much pain. My throat is still sore now, but I am managing to eat some food and drink some things, which was impossible before. My taste is affected and hopefully that will come back. Looking back I think if you have small children, it's particularly important to have a good support network, because of how tiring treatment for cancer is.

Close-up of Deanne seated.

Watch: all about Deanne's experiences

Watch: all about Deanne's experiences