The last week has seen Auckland transition from a shaky Level 3 to a nervous 2.5 while the rest of the country has basked in the freedom of Level 2. What is becoming clear, however, is that we are in for mask wearing for quite some time to come. Board members are even thinking of getting some masks branded with our logo for awareness raising and maybe even fundraising.

How are head and neck cancer patients coping with the masks? Some of us find that they cause mouth breathing and hence an even drier mouth. I have a nerve problem that causes slight dribbling if I’m not careful. Masks get wet and have to be changed often. Other than that people are being inventive, sewing patterned masks and even making the no sew versions with old t-shirts and pillow cases.

If you have had a laryngectomy ask your doctor or contact us for advice on keeping your stoma safe.

Moving on from masks, one important discussion on Facebook this week was about the acid reflux that many of us experience. We need to talk to a GP or dietitian if it’s serious but the tips provided by fellow patients were impressive.

Dentistry is a vexed issue for many of our members. If we don’t qualify to see the hospital dentist, who can we trust in the community to deal with us when our surgery and/or radiation has put our teeth and jaw at risk? One of our board members is attempting to clarify this and get a list of dentists who have the expertise to treat us.

2020 is turning out to be a very tough year for patients, families and medical staff. We have to proceed in hope and step by step as we are advised to do while going through treatment.