The Ipswich Head & Neck Cancer 


Support Group



The Journey Through Cancer Together...

We aim to support Patients, Family, Friends

and anyone who has been affected by
Head and Neck Cancer

 


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My name is Steve Wall I was diagnosed with cancer in my tonsil and a secondary cancer in my neck in 2003

Summary of my Cancer Journey.


In the spring of 2003 I was suffering for a couple of weeks with a sore neck then I awoke one morning with a small lump about the size of a pea on the left side of my neck, I didn’t really think anything of it but later that day whilst at my desk in the office, I started to have real problems with moving my neck around so I went straight to my GP, I was informed of an infection in my salivary gland and prescribed anti-biotics. A week later the lump had grown to the size of a large grape so I went back to my GP, I was immediately sent straight to Ipswich Hospital where an assistant to the Oncology department assessed my condition, I was prodded, poked and scoped and asked a million questions about my life style. I was only just past my 45th birthday and had stopped smoking around 10-15 cigarettes a day three years earlier as a millennium New Year’s resolution, I still enjoyed a beer but only in moderation.

“I think you have Lymphoma...” were the next words I heard, I asked what that was and told it was cancer, I can’t recall any conversation from this point on, in fact I don’t even remember how I got home, I knew I’d driven home but can’t remember the journey or the route, nothing. I tried to tell my wife and three young children but broke down at this point.

It was May when I had the biopsy to identify my dragon, turns out the tumour in my neck was secondary and I had been labelled with an UPT, an Unknown Primary Tumour. A CT Scan was arranged and this identified a 17mm tumour or squamous cell carcinoma on my left tonsil and this was the good news!

The treatment plan was to remove the tumours surgically by performing an operation know as a neck dissection, this would also see the removal of infected lymph glands in my neck, this would be followed with a new treatment plan of radiotherapy that I would agree to participate in a trial of. During July the operation took nearly eight hours to complete.

The next step was to have a PEG fitted. A Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy tube (PEG tube) is generally placed into a patient's stomach as a means of feeding them when they are unable to eat. It is an endoscopic procedure for placing a tube into the stomach. It involves placing a tube into the stomach through the abdominal wall. Following radiotherapy this tube would be a life saver for me.

I signed up to partake in some pioneering technology where the radiotherapy was concerned, I would be one the first persons in the UK to receive radiotherapy using an execrated treatment plan, the norm would see a patient have 36 shots of radiotherapy, once a day over a six week period, my treatment would see me taking three shots a day for 12 days using light bending technology. Yes it was really tough going and I was so glad I had taken the option of having the PEG fitted, my oral cavity was in complete melt down so the ability to eat and drink anything had been lost almost completely.

Recovery took a number of years and even today, 6 years on, I suffer with fatigue and still suffer a dry mouth as I’ve lost a saliva gland.

I can’t help thinking that had I made the effort to see my dentist as often as I should have done this story would have ended earlier. I knew nothing of mouth cancer until I became a victim of it, I didn’t even know there was such a thing. I worry for others that ignore the symptoms today.



Steve Wall