Cancer Stories

Julie’s story

The treatment from my multidisciplinary  team sent the stage 4 cancer in my tonsils, throat and tongue into remission in 2013. My cancer was caused by the HPV virus. I hadn’t drunk alcohol or smoked for over 30 years.

I have to be honest, the side effects of treatment were tough. My capacity to swallow was limited to liquid food for some time, so I lost 20kg over six to eight weeks. I lost the capacity to talk for quite a few weeks. I used an iPad to communicate.

For a month I had chemotherapy once a week and radiation every day. I had to wear a special mask to keep me totally still while the radiation treatment took place.

It is called an ‘immobilisation mask’. The mask keeps you safe by ensuring the radiation is delivered to the precise locations necessary.

I found this aspect of the treatment challenging. I had never seen a mask like this and I had never heard about their purpose. A combination of listening to music, light sedation and support from a psychologist helped a great deal.

But the result made the rigours of treatment absolutely worth the effort. I can talk, swallow and I am back to work and the joy of daily life.

I really recommend asking for help from speech pathologists, nutritionists, psychologists  and senior nurses, as well as the medical team. Find a dentist who understands the effects of treatment and get advice for the health of your teeth long term. Tell your trusted family members and friends what you need and ask directly for help. Do everything you can to survive because life is precious and sweet.

View our editorial policy

Support services

Coping with cancer?
Speak to a qualified health professional or someone who has experienced cancer, or find a support group or forum

Need legal and financial assistance?
Pro bono services, wills, no interest loans and financial counselling

Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment

Cancer information

Cancer Council Online Community
A community forum – a safe place to share stories, get tips and connect with people who understand

Visit our YouTube channel
Stories and videos produced by Cancer Council NSW

Connect with us on Facebook
Join the conversation for up-to-date news and stories from the community

TOP BACK TO TOP