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I AM STILL HERE

BIO

My name is Arthur Lazarus. I was born in New Hampshire in 1935 and grew up in Waltham, Massachusetts in a stable suburban family. I graduated from University of Maine in 1957 with a BA in Geology. I served in the Army Reserve for six years. I met my wife at U of Maine and we have three adult daughters and four grandchildren. I live in Littleton, Massachusetts. I began my career as an Engineering Geologist in construction materials technology and ended as a Program Manager and Senior Engineering Geologist in hazardous waste site remediation. I was fully employed for the entire 45-year career. My volunteer activities at present are conservation land management, church participation, stained glass crafting, and participation in two Head and Neck Cancer Support Groups. Although I have been quite healthy all my life, the big change came in 2008 with severe oral cancer. Through extensive treatment and therapy activities I have done well for six years now.

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Gigi, Your Kiss is Broken

Written by: Penelope Michel

“Gigi, your kiss is broken.” The wisdom of a six-year-old. I cannot pucker my lips to kiss this precious angel. Some of us have broken bones or broken hearts. I have a broken kiss. My lip muscles never quite made it back after surgery, so I drool too. Sometimes my saliva runs, I really am a spitty thing. That is the stuff that makes life very hard. People don’t like to be spittied on! Can’t say I blame them. Now choking in a restaurant is an all-star event. I have pretty much mastered the art of walking very quickly to the restroom or out of the front door, so as not to mess up the dinner service and enjoyment of other patrons.  It takes an act of will power to bring down the shoulders, not panic, relax the throat muscles, try a gentle breath, and then hack up the offending bolus. It is frightening. I have had the pleasure of being Heimliched in a wonderful little greasy spoon in Houston when attempting to do Mexican breakfast with a girlfriend. Thank heavens for one very observant and well-trained waitress. So much for that idea! Ah yes, that sweet rush of oxygen! So far so good, I am still here to tell the tale.

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The Suspected Throat Infection that Changed my Life

KarlyPickering

Byline: Karly. Click here for Karly’s blog.

Hello everyone. My name is Karly. I’m an 18 year old who is struggling with difficulty swallowing both food and liquids.

Two years ago, I went to the doctor with a painful, swollen throat and difficulty breathing. I was initially diagnosed as having pharyngitis and was put on a course of antibiotics. The antibiotics didn’t help, so I was put on another course of a different antibiotic. After this second course, I was told my problem was viral and that the glands in my throat were inflamed. Eventually most of the symptoms I had went away but I was then left with a distinct feeling of food getting caught in my throat. From this day on, my life drastically changed.

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A Decade of Coping (Voiceless, Hungry, and Determined at 16 – Part 2)

[Editor’s note. This Patient Story is the second of a two part series written by a member of the NFOSD team from a written interview with patient Angelica Hunsucker. Click here for part 1. All content stems directly from responses to documented interview questions and has been approved in written form by Angelica.]

The Laryngectomy

One of the hardest challenges I had to face with my diagnosis was losing my voice at age sixteen. The laryngectomy was one of those “world coming to an end” moments for me, I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the things that I wouldn’t be able to do anymore. The procedure not only removed my voice box but also changed the way I breathe from my mouth to a hole in my neck. Talking on the phone was gone. Swimming was gone – hell if I even fell in a pool I would die! Even things that I could still do, like breathing on my own, somehow became more complicated because of the hole in my neck. I have to be careful with aerosol sprays, dusty areas, and any cologne or strong smells. These set me off and I start coughing badly. I also have tobe careful playing with my girls. I can’t wrestle and play around the way I would like to be able to!

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THE DREADED “YOUR NEW NORM” (PART 2)

[Editors note: THE DREADED “YOUR NEW NORM” is a two-part series written by Jim Rose. This is the second part of the series. Part 1 can be viewed by clicking here.]

As I became more physically fit I was sent to a physical therapist named Mike Vito.  This young man was very adapt and thorough at his job.  He pressed me to seek answers from my surgeon that he couldn’t find in my surgical reports.  It turned out that the nerve that made my rotor cuff work had to be severed in order to place my pectoral muscle in my throat.  With this knowledge Mike designed a lifelong exercise program that would help me regain use of my right arm.

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