Paul’s story

In 2011, Paul Barr from Coventry, started to get a sore throat, but despite taking over the counter throat lozenges from his local pharmacy, the pain was not receding.

After six weeks of his sore throat not going away, he finally went to his doctor.  The doctor diagnosed him as having ‘Laryngitis’, a general sore throat, and prescribed him some anti-biotics to clear up any infection.  This proved no good, as his sore throat continued and by now, he was suffering from acid reflux, so went back to his doctor and was prescribed more pills.

Now on his third visit, his voice becoming hoarse, but despite these signs, his doctor continued prescribing more anti-biotics.  All the while the condition was worsening and making him tired.  On his fourth visit to the doctors, he was finally referred to the ENT department of his local hospital, ‘University Hospital Coventry.  The examination results initially found nothing too suspect at the time, and again his doctor sent him home with yet more pills.

Forward 18 months, and still dealing with a sore throat, as well as now finding it hard to breath and feeling incredibly weak, he returns to his doctor, but this time determined to get a second opinion.   This results in him being referred to ENT for a second time.

It is after the second referral that Paul receives the news from his doctor that they found a cancerous tumour in his throat, and it was at stage 3.  He was understandably mad at the doctor, and told him, “The last time you saw me, you said it was okay”.  The doctor tells him he is going to need 6 weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, to begin straight away.

Paul went through hell with treatment, with his hair falling out, losing a lot of weight, as well as losing his sense of taste and smell.

6 months after the treatment, and feeling a little better, and during a check-up, Paul was dealt yet another blow.  His cancer was back and that if he didn’t have a laryngectomee, he would have only 6 months to a year to live.

He had the laryngectomee done, as well as a feeding tube, fitted into his abdomen, meaning he didn’t eat solid food or drink anything orally for 3 months afterwards.  Once the three months passed after his operation, his throat settled a little and he was fitted with a voice prosthesis valve to allow him to speak.

The valve worked okay for 4 months, but it was leaking a lot and so a new one was fitted.  However, it too started to leak.   He also experienced a major problem, with his valve falling out whilst on holiday, and causing him to cancel his flight home.

Examination of the hole in Paul’s throat highlighted that he was facing some severe issues and if not dealt with the hole would not heal.  He had to be fitted a feeding PEG tube directly into this stomach, for three months, so that the hole would heal properly.

Paul today

Nowadays, he can eat and drink again, but he was told, by the ENT consultant, that his skin was too thin to put a new valve in his throat, so he can no longer talk.

It’s been a tough journey for Paul, but he remains very positive, and it hasn’t stopped him doing one of his many passions, and that is travelling.

Paul Barr


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