5 lessons I learned during tonsil cancer treatment

MD Anderson is a very humbling place. When I was there for my tonsil cancer treatments in late 2016 and early 2017, I’d always see someone who was worse off than I was. That gave me a better perspective on my own situation. But surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy still took their toll, and some days felt harder than others. Here are five things I learned from that experience. 1. Keep a “bucket list” of places to eat. When eating hurts and nothing tastes good, it’s hard to stay motivated to feed yourself. So I lost a lot of weight during treatment, despite drinking countless meal-replacement shakes. One reason was because swallowing after a tonsillectomy is pretty painful. And eating only got more challenging after I started chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The first couple of weeks weren’t so bad. I noticed a slight metallic taste to my food, but I could still eat a steak and enjoy it. Just a few days later, though, I had a hard time eating a single chicken wing, and soon I was struggling to consume even 1,000 calories a day. I worked around that by thinking about all the places I wanted to go once I could eat and taste normally again. It actually helped my appetite a little bit, because all of those things still sounded really good; I just couldn’t enjoy them right away. But it made me hungrier and gave me something to look forward to. I’m still working my way through that list. 2. Be patient with yourself. I’d been warned that the side effects of radiation therapy (such...