Throat Cancer Survival Rates
A diagnosis of oropharyngeal cancer is life altering.
How to survive throat cancer? It is possible.
Hello. Thanks for stopping by. Yvonne here from Adelaide, South Australia and an HPV oropharyngeal cancer survivor.
It is a life altering diagnosis, and quite simply, I had never taken on such a huge mental and physical challenge as head & neck cancer treatment. Make no mistake, this is not for the faint hearted and I liken it to preparing for battle, but my event career was to come to the rescue. The use of written strategy, researched dietary plans as well as auxilary therapy were but a few of my battle arsenal.
As a result, not only did I survive throat cancer, I thrived in spite of and not because of the life saving treatment which can be as brutal as it is life giving.
What’s more, it has also given me a life purpose, to help others going through the treatment that might personally be struggling with side effects or the “where to now” part of their food journey.
Risk Factors and symptoms
4 years ago I moved back to Australia from Vietnam. Nursing a very sore throat and was limping through on strong painkillers and nasal spray. Antibiotics had not worked and I was aware that I wasn’t getting better. Misdiagnosed overseas and on a visa run back to Australia I sought out my local Doctor.
Quickly I was scheduled to see a specialist. There were no symptoms other than an irritating sore throat.
To cut a long story short it was stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma likely caused by HPV .
Diagnosis & Prognosis
A diagnosis of stage 4 cancer on my left tonsil resulting in the surgical removal of both tonsils (just to be sure) 1/3rd of my tongue and 30 lymph nodes in my neck known as a neck dissection. To ensure margins were also not hiding anything nasty, there was 35 sessions of radio/chemotherapy on top to endure.
As a foodie, qualified chef and writer this meant I had to learn my tools of trade again, that being to eat & drink, alongside learning how to transition off a PEG tube. Speaking swallowing and eating simultaneously was a lost skill. A skill I hadn’t realised I relied heavily on.
Subsequently I had to learn to live life again, in other words, learning what to do to ensure my best chances of going on to survive throat cancer. Some of us have widely differing side effects to HPV throat cancer treatment, but there are 3 things you can be assured of and in reality these are likely to happen to you too.
- Food will change
- Social life will change
- Confidence will change
collectively It’s known as Head & neck cancer
Survival for throat cancers depends on the type of cancer as well as the stage and location of the cancer. I’m not medically trained you can read more here.
Furthermore, if you are completely in the dark about this cancer and its treatment, the side effects of treatment and how it will effect your food life then you are in the right place. This is my lived experience and I offer resources, some free and some paid to help you navigate the toughest times.
How to survive throat cancer without food
My surgeon recommended I have a PEG tube placed in my stomach, and that was when I hit rock bottom.
This meant a future food journey comprising of nothing orally for 15 months, to say nothing of the isolation, depression and joyless food experience. In essence, I was set adrift the empty real food boat and I had to learn to sink or swim without a life ring.
Of course my PEG tube feeder kept me alive but restricted me physically and psychologically, was I ever going to get back to some “normality”. By the same token, I was also concerned if I had beaten the cancer and would it come back was always lurking in the recess of my mind.
Who was I ? My social life
Here is where I ended up socially. Missing family weddings, significant birthdays and casual coffee.
All a thing of the past.
- Not joining in with social gatherings
- Lacked confidence to try different food & textures
- Lost all connection with food & people
- Scared, uncertain, angry at the injustice of it all
- My social life was non-existent
Exasperated and at a point where nothing was changing, I cried & cried and then nothing. I was suddenly aware that I was still alive, still breathing & that was the turning point for me.
Survival Rates and confidence
The power to change my food outlook & that my new food life lay within. All I had to do was take full responsibility for my situation & make a start. The decision to stop feeling sorry for myself, embrace the change & challenges opened up possibilities. The key was to stop reading & reacting to everyone else’s journey and focused on mine.
Can throat cancer be cured? I had a good prognosis, in other words, all I had to do was find a pathway to start & create my best food life working within my new parameters. With this in mind, I set about utilising my career skills to create a simple plan & program to get to where I wanted to be, and that was Peg Tube free and eating socially again.
Helping others survive throat / oral cancer
Whilst languishing in hospital I started to draft a book. This book was my step step process to getting myself back to eating real food. Entitled Easy Follow Easy Swallow It was my way of gaining some control over what was happening to me and managing my food.
heres is where I am now – MY BEST FOOD LIFE
To that end, after years of wondering if it (Cancer) was going to come back, or was back with every niggle, stabbing pain & coughing fit, I woke up one day with renewed confidence. As a result of my hard work and diligence I found I had a new food life.
- No feeding tube and nor have to use bottled plastic / premix food
- Eating nutritious varied food
- A little chilli, spice and flavourful food
- No custard, ice cream unless I want to
- Enjoy social gatherings with family & friends
- Confidence to try all sorts of food even when out in public or travelling
- Fitter, stronger and healthier than I have ever been
- Go to food markets and buy fresh food
- Reconnected with food
- Plan meals and create fresh food shopping lists
- Travel without worrying about if I can eat or not
- I look at food in a very different way but can still participate with others
ALL IN on changing my life.
In conclusion, This is about a commitment to creating a change in your life at a very primal level. It’s about choosing to sit at the table again.
Together let’s discover your BEST food life!
Let me share with you all I have learnt over the years of being a foodie and what I have learnt over the past 4 years in transitioning back to real food. It has taken me a few years to get back to my BEST food life, but it need not take you that long with what I can show and teach you here.
In fact, I want to help you right now, here you will find a free series on Facebook that I did about the pain points to food transitioning. Here’s my FREE Guide to how I transitioned back to real food. The 4 Step Transition Process here: or If you’d like to jump straight into my Mind Food Body program apply here
People diagnosed with Head & Neck Cancer in Australia in 2020.
Head and Neck Cancer in Australia statistics- Data source: AIHW Cancer Data in Australia 2020
Are caused by HPV
Men are three times more likely to be diagnosed than women.