Relapsed! 9 months after radiotherapy but RT did not clear off all the cancerous cells. Previously swollen lymph node became reactive and started to grow again. After consulting with doctors, a Radical Neck Dissection was offered as the treatment choice. Surgery scheduled in 1 month's time (November 2013).
While waiting for the surgery, I visited TCM and changed my diet. Fruits and vegetables replaced most meats and other unhealthy food. I learnt new breathing exercises and also learnt to control my emotions. I started searching the Internet for information on Neck Dissection and read up on the side effect of the surgery. There were pros and cons on knowing too much about what might or might not happen during and after the surgery. Pros as it helped me to prepare myself for those stated side effects. Cons as in reading too much and not filtering out of my mind, it will wear me down.
Day of surgery came. I was "put to sleep" at 9am and when I woke up, it was 3pm. The surgery was over and I was hospitalised for 3 days. Radical Neck dissection is generally pain free as the doctor also removed the nerves around the affected area of your neck. I am able to eat soft food and walk around on the day after the surgery. I just felt numbness on the operated area, other than that, everything is normal.
My shoulder movements and neck movement seems ok. I can lift up my arms as normal without much pain or tightness. Neck movement is definitely affected as it will take time for the neck to recover its mobility. Physiotherapist will also be helping me to cope with neck exercises.
It is now 10 days post surgery and I just received my biopsy results of the lymph nodes that were removed during the operation. 2 lymph nodes were found to be cancerous and I am glad that they were removed, before they can cause more harm to me.
I am sharing this experience of mine because I understand that there are people who are fearful of going for a neck dissection. They might have seen or heard people who suffer a lot after the surgery. I have also read the extreme positives and negatives about the side effects of neck dissection. I prefer to take the "positiveness" to encourage myself and a bit of "negativeness" to prepare myself, and so I manage a balanced mind on what I should expect.
Lastly, I would like to say that not everyone's situation and diagnosis is the same. Discuss with your doctors and your loved ones. Make a choice and have faith that you have made the right decision.
If I can be of any help regarding my experience with the neck dissection, please feel free to contact me via email
Before I end this letter, allow me to give thanks and glory to my God for this journey.
" .... we are more than conquerors..."
Contributed by Alvin Ho / NPC survivor
Date: 18 November 2013
Survivor since Sep 2012
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