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Through the storm
3 Posts

Hello. This is just a personal report. I'm feeling a lot of stress these days and I'm hoping that writing down my thoughts and feelings will help me calm down. I'm about to start radiation therapy for the second time. It could start this week if we could only get our schedule. Last time, there wasn't any major problems: no major pain, etc. I hope it'll be the same this time. On the other hand, there are so many things happening already and anyone of them stresses me out. I had an operation to remove the tumor a month ago (head-and-neck cancer), but we couldn't remove the whole thing. Now the neck is healing, but I'm getting this thick saliva in the mouth. I have to wake up at night to spit it out. That's one thing. I'm trying to concentrate on my eating and drinking these days to put back some weight, but it's just so difficult. I have very little appetite. I can swallow without too much difficulty, but I really have to force myself to eat my food and it takes a really long time. Everyday feels like a drag. Even without the radiation therapy around the corner, that'd be annoying enough at this stage. And that's the weird thing: how my life has all changed without me even realizing it. This and other things: the pain in the neck since the last operation, the wound on the side of the tumor which has now "ulcerated" (we have to clean it and cover it twice a day).

One more thing: I have been drinking Ensure to put on weight, but when I drink it, I'm getting a lot of mucus in my mouth as though in reaction to Ensure itself. It's weird. By the time I finish the bottle, I can cough a big blob of chocolate mucus! Does it happen to anyone else?

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Cynthia Mac
3929 Posts
Hi, J-S‍ I’m taging law1‍ Into this conversation because she’s had some experience with this type of cancer, and she may also know some others who would have some advice.

Many years ago, I was told not to drink dairy products when you have a cold because milk products tend to cause our bodies to create more mucus. That might have something to do with what’s going on when you drink Ensure - you might want to check that label. And, if you have a dietician through the hospital, they might be able to offer you some insight into that, too. If you don’t already have one, your GP might be able to get you a referral.

Both my late mother and I had/have a “reaction” with certain foods that cause us to cough up phlegm, too. I’ve had to try and avoid a lot of fast food because of it.

I hope you’ll be able to get a solution.
122 Posts

@J-S I too get some mucous after having dairy. With all you’re going through, that’s a big issue! Boost makes a juice version of their drink. I’ve found it in some grocery stores/drugstores but not all. Might be able to order it online as well.

take care!


716 Posts

Hello, @J-S ……I am glad @Cynthia Mac tagged me and I can relate 100% to your medical dilemmas, your mucous descriptions, the chocolate blobs after Ensure----and general anxiety towards your new body. Cancer sucks….let me just express that brief, yet accurate description!! You are such a champ and very brave to be so candid.

This site is the best group of folks and its access to information for support, be it as a patient, someone angry, a caregiver, a depressed phase, and at wit's end for eating a tolerable diet, yet one which is healthy and digestible and prevents further weight loss. I went through the worst recovery following 36 rounds of radiation to kick the cancer at the base of my tongue, my right tonsil, and heading toward a lymph node.….I had recovery for 9 months of agonizing blisters. 3 bouts of thrush. I refused all food, all liquid, chewing and/ or swallowing, yawning was sooooooooooo painful and speaking clearly was a challenge. My nutritionist was so upset with me, and she kept saying that “food was my medicine just like the opiates”. The speech pathologist was helpful in encouraging oral exercises and swallowing techniques…. have you met with either Nutritionists or with Speech pathologists?

After almost 4 yrs. since my diagnosis and 3-½ yrs. of recovery, I still produce thick mucous and have one Heck of a time coughing it out of my throat just so I can spit it out. My neighbours must think I am choking ---- (which I still do on occasion!)

Have you access to counsellors at your cancer centre? They can help with food challenges and the resulting frustration. Additionally, I recall phoning frequently for trained professionals who could also talk me through the darkest of times. It's toll-free and sponsored by the Canadian Cancer Society: 1-888-939-3333.

We all support your journey, and you are a tough cookie!!!!

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