Speech problems since diagnosis


Has anyone had a speech problem. My voice has become weak and sometimes it’s really hard to get the words out. I think it started after diagnosis and I finished radiotherapy in October but its just getting worse. I have other side effects from the radiotherapy like muscle pain in my shoulder, arm and chest and my breast is sore but these things change gradually. I am going to have my vocal chords checked but just wondered if anyone else had experienced any speech problems. Stress has been suggested as a possible factor but losing my voice is making me more stressed. 


Hi Joanie

There’s no escaping the fact that a diagnosis can lead to many more problems. It’s a huge attack on our sense of safety in our world. I haven’t experienced speech problems as such but I am very anxious, with panic disorder and phobias, so the prospect of surgery terrified me. Then something clicked: this was something I could do nothing about and I had to do as I was told more or less. Suddenly, I had no anxiety.

Then, three days before surgery, I spluttered my morning cuppa all over the duvet - I couldn’t swallow it properly. This was October 2018. I still have swallowing difficulties when it comes to fluids and occasionally resort to a straw. As for tablets, I can only take them with food now and there’s a size limit or it gets stuck.

After chemo, which caused too many problems to mention, I sailed through radiotherapy. I had it to the collarbone as well as my chest wall and I now find I sometimes get food stuck in my throat. Medication for the neuropathic pain I feel from the radiotherapy probably makes it worse. I lose my voice after a conversation for about 15 minutes (lockdown helps) and I get very gruff after 5 minutes. I haven’t lost it tho.

My anxiety levels have been way better since cancer treatment so it doesn’t make sense to me that my throat problems are psychosomatic but they started just before surgery (like my mind needed to remind me that this wasn’t ok after all) so they must have been. I think radiotherapy built on that.

Are you on any medication that might dry your vocal cords? If you had radiotherapy near your neck, it may be the cause but your oncologist would have told you.  Since it started during this huge time of stress, anxiety is likely to be a huge factor. Many of us feel our tension there before even being aware of it. Hopefully you’ll be given some exercises to help loosen the muscles. I hope it stops bothering you at any rate. All the best xx

Hi Joanie, 

My voice has been croaky for the last few weeks and I’ve not had a cold. I’ve no idea what is causing it. I finished Radiotherapy in September and have had pain in my breast and sometimes in my arm since then.