Throat and salivary gland cancer survivor: Why I finally got a feeding tube

I resisted getting a feeding tube for as long as I could. I knew I’d have to use one eventually, but I didn’t feel ready for a long time. I was afraid it would make me a lesser person or less attractive, and I worried that it would completely change my lifestyle. Now that I have one, I must admit: my lifestyle has changed. But I’ve gotten used to nourishing myself this way, and I’ve adjusted to eating seven times a day, instead of two or three. Today, I use my feeding tube as an education tool. I don’t draw unnecessary attention to myself, but I’ve started eating out in public more. I’ll sit near the back of a room and have a tray on my lap under the table. Sometimes, my 4-year-old grandson helps depress the syringe. And if someone asks me questions, I explain what I’m doing and why. I think it’s a great learning opportunity. Because I do still eat, I just eat differently. A salivary gland cancer diagnosis finally forced my hand I started having real problems eating and swallowing in 2000, about 15 years after I received chemotherapy and radiation for stage III nasopharyngeal carcinoma (a rare type of throat cancer). I’d often choke, and had to figure out ways to cough up pills or food that got stuck in my throat. I had a feeding tube installed in February 2016 to supplement my diet. But I wasn’t using it regularly, and I kept on losing weight. Eventually, I was diagnosed with cancer-induced cachexia, or wasting disease. My body simply wasn’t getting enough nutrients....