Hi all, well I think I have something to shout about. And even better, I have the voice to do it!

My voice has been slowly recovering over the past few weeks, and it is almost back to normal. My speech pathologist has signed off that I do not need to see her again. Her last bit of advice was not to strain my voice and keep hydrated. All good.

My throat still feels a little bit funny and my voice is sometimes a bit scratchy, but nothing much to worry about. I still get the occasional coughing fit. Not pleasant, but OK.

So, after today’s visit to the chemo ward for my monthly bone strengthening injection, I can take some time out until next month’s PSA test and scan to see how the radiation treatment has impacted the tumour. Great news and I am in high spirits

Once again I am very fortunate to be able to deal with whatever cancer has thrown at me. I forgot to mention in previous posts about an early discussion with my radiation oncologist. She was reviewing my medical history prior to treatment, and commented “Gee, you have really had some bad luck!” I disagreed, and stated that I am one of the luckiest people alive. Despite all the speed bumps I can still enjoy an active and interesting life, supported by great people. Bad luck indeed!

Good health and happiness to all. Cheers, Phil

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Today’s oncologist visit was full of great news.

PSA is down from 48 (19 June) to 28 (7 August). Wonderful. So good I forgot to ask about the other results! I assume they are all ok.

The onco agrees not to proceed with barium X-rays. Great.

I can stop the second layer of hormone therapy (Xtandi) and keep it in the rack for future use. Fantastic.

The plan is to check PSA and scan the tumour to confirm what has happened to it in several months time.

All music to my ears. Still not much voice recovery, but some progress. Hopefully this signals that it will keep improving.

How do I feel? Pretty good. Tired. Very emotional. Apart from my monthly bone strengthening shot this Friday I can (hopefully) live outside the cancer bubble for a change.

Good health and happiness to all. Cheers, Phil

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I am feeling a bit old today.

OK, I am 58. Sometimes I feel old, but mostly I do not feel like someone who will (shock, horror) be sixty before I know it. I try to keep healthy and active.

Kind people tell me that I look very well. In both recent consultations with my speech pathologist she commented that I was “young and active”. So all good.

Until yesterday. I was in a shop trying to arrange for a tradie to visit to quote for some work. I told the young lady on reception that, except Wednesday, we are pretty much available outside school drop off and pick up. The young lady replied “Oh, so you do the grandpa pick up”. I explained that I pick up my thirteen year old daughter (not granddaughter), and made a few jokes to lighten the mood in case she was embarrassed. She then continued with “I could not handle kids at your age”. Emphasis on “your”. I was gobsmacked.

That is why I feel a bit old today. Now, I just need to find a reason to visit the speech pathologist again………………..

Just kidding, I thought it was funny enough to share. Cheers, Phil

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Well, the ten radiation therapy sessions ended Tuesday two weeks ago. On the following Thursday I met the radiation oncologist and reported that everything was mostly OK. She reminded me that things could get worse over the next week. And it sure did. Swallowing became painful, even if everything was chewed into oblivion. Even swallowing liquid hurt. Or swallowing nothing. Not a lot of fun. And a lot of coughing as food and liquid irritated my throat. That hurt. I was starting to worry. A lot.

I had an appointment with the speech pathologist last Friday. Right on schedule the pain started to diminish on Thursday. By the time I got to the appointment Friday I was feeling much better. The “speechy” was still concerned about my cough. After testing things out with water, thickened water, biscuits and two fruits, she felt that we should proceed with the barium X-rays. This involves eating and drinking barium laced food and liquid, to make them stand out on the scans. Scans are taken frame by frame so that they can track the progress of the food and liquid to see if it it going into my lungs. I was not really keen, but she won the day.

Friday I had coughing whether or not I was eating or drinking. Then miraculously on Saturday things improved. And again yesterday. I was really happy when breakfast this morning was uneventful (almost). So I rang the “speechy” and we agreed to abandon the barium X-ray.

How do I feel? Bloody wonderful. I did not realise how much this was taking out of me. Hopefully the pain and cough will stay away.

I am getting a little bit of volume back in my voice, but it is still a lot Batman/Rod Stewart, so a way to go.

The next step is to see my oncologist Wednesday next week, and my radiation oncologist three weeks after that. So, all is well in my world. Good health and happiness to all. Cheers, Phil


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Radiation therapy to the tumour in my chest was completed last night.

The actual treatment sessions did not take long. However the clinic is an hours drive away so the whole exercise was about 2 and a half hours each time. Every work day for two weeks. Ten sessions.

The process involved an initial consultation, followed by a session to set me up for the treatment. Three pin head tattoos were applied, one in the middle of my chest and one under each arm. The tattoos were used with lasers to place me in the same position in the machine every time.

Once I was placed on the bed, a scanning head took some shots to double check the alignment, then the radiation head went to work. It was a big round head with a glass plate and it spun around me and the head also rotated. Behind the glass plate were two rows of grey “teeth”, which moved in and out to create various openings for the radiation beam. The “teeth” had “tongues” which moved in and out of the teeth. This created various shapes which, I hope, directed the radiation beams in to the tumour and away from vital organs etc.

I was travelling OK until the last few days. I now have a bad cough and some discomfort in my chest and throat. Plus I am pretty tired from all the travel. The side effects could get worse over the next week or so. Not much to do about it except eat and drink carefully so as not to damage any sensitive bits. Nothing too hot or cold and chew food well. All things considered not a bad outcome.

I seem to get a little bit of volume back in my voice and then it goes again. Nerves typically are slow to recover so it may take some time.

Good health and happiness to all. Cheers, Phil



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Today I visited a speech pathologist, to see if they can help minimise the chance of food or fluid entering my lungs. This is required as a tumour in my chest is affecting the left vocal cord nerve, resulting in the vocal cord being paralysed and permanently open. This in turn can allow food or fluid to enter my lungs.

When I got to reception I stated “I have an appointment at one thirty with Jess the speech pathologist”. Only it came out wrong. I got tongue tied on speech pathologist twice and sort of got it on the third go. Good grief!

The consultation started with a check of the muscles in my face, neck and throat by pulling various faces and making all sorts of noises. Quite amusing for my thirteen year old daughter who accompanied me.

Then I drank some water and ate a biscuit while the speech pathologist felt my neck. All appears to be OK, but the only way to make sure that food or fluid is not going into the lungs is to perform a barium x-ray. This involves consuming barium laced food and drink and the x-ray can detect where it is going. However, as I have had this condition  for a long period it is unlikely that there is a problem. Therefore the speech pathologist will write to my oncologists to seek their opinion.

We also have to consider that planned radiation therapy may affect swallowing, so it may be best to wait.

So….there is nothing to do but wait to see what the recommendation is.

Good health and happiness to all. Cheers, Phil

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I visited the radiation oncologist at Buderim twice this week. Buderim is a nice part of the world in the Sunshine Coast hinterland an hours drive away.

The guy who did the last two treatments was not available so the first meeting with the new oncologist was long and detailed. The new onco was not rushed and seems to be the right person. Surgery to remove the tumour was eliminated due to the proximity to critical bits (heart, lungs, throat, etc). Even a biopsy is considered too dangerous.

The plan is to administer the same dosage as was previously applied to my back (ten doses over ten days). It was four years ago and my back is still mostly fine, so fingers crossed for a similar outcome this time around. I had limited side effects before. However, the location and size of the tumour (53mm x 48mm) means I may not be so lucky this time. Potentially the lungs, stomach and throat could all be affected. If they are, the side effects could be cough and shortness of breath, nausea, and pain or difficulty swallowing. All short term and manageable.

They can apply a higher dose of radiation to really knock the tumour, but the risk of collateral damage is too high.

As with all significant medical procedures there are also some major potential complications, but I do not want to dwell on them. Scary.

And, of course, this treatment may shrink the tumour, and may relieve pressure on the left vocal cord, but I still may not get my voice back. That would be disappointing.

We also discussed the need for the speech pathologist. Apparently they may be able to assist with managing swallowing food and liquids.

The following day I returned to set up the radiation treatment. This involved applying three tattoos. Yes, I “got ink done” – again. One in the middle of the chest and one under each arm. These are used with lasers to help put me in the same position each time treatment is applied. Scans were taken. All is ready.

Now I just have to wait to find out when the radiation treatment can be done and when I can see the speech pathologist.

I did have a pretty severe anxiety attack when I got home from the first meeting, not sure whether treatment was the right thing to do. However, I am now comfortable that I am doing the right thing. I hope so!

Good health and happiness to all. Cheers, Phil



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