Learning that I had hypopharyngeal cancer shook me to my core. I had to accept for the first time that I am not invincible and that life has an end. Suddenly, I was faced with the potential beginning of the end. Even though the small cancer (T1N0M0) in the retropharynx was surgically removed and I received local radiation, I was uncertain about my future. I slowly recovered from the radiation adverse effects and gradually believed that I was actually cured. However, after 20 months I had a local recurrence (T2N0M0) at a different location (right pyriform sinus). Unfortunately, my surgeons were unable to completely remove the tumor by laser after 3 attempts. At that point, I became frustrated and exhausted (emotionally and physically) and elected to undergo complete pharyngolaryngectomy with flap reconstruction at a different medical center with greater experience with this type of cancer. The tumor was completely removed, and no local or systemic spread was noted.
Brook I. Neck CancerA Physician's Personal Experience. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009;135(2):118. doi:10.1001/archoto.2008.529