Kertar Kaur was diagnosed with recurrent laryngeal cancer last year. She underwent surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy for treatment. Her physical health declined and she required a nasogastric (NG) tube to be inserted for nutrition as she was unable to swallow without feeling pain.
Due to the aggressive cancer treatment, Kertar, 73, lost 10 kg over a span of seven months. When she was admitted to St Luke’s Hospital, the dietitian monitored her weight and prescribed a suitable amount of milk feed with higher calories to ensure adequate nutrition and prevent further weight loss. During the hospital stay, Kertar was able to maintain a healthy weight.
Kertar also underwent speech therapy to improve her swallowing with the aim of being able to remove the NG tube and eat orally. The tube had caused her much discomfort and anxiety. Her sleep was disturbed as she constantly worried that the tube would slip off.
When her condition was stabilised, Kertar was discharged home with the NG tube which made it inconvenient for her to go out. It was also not safe for her to be in the community due to COVID-19. Kertar missed being active and working, “I used to go to work and chit chat with the customers. Now I have no choice, I have to stay home.” Before she fell ill, she was a shop assistant at a provision store.
Kertar continued to be followed up as an outpatient by the hospital’s dietitian and speech therapist. After two months, she was assessed to be of a healthy weight and able to swallow an adequate amount of food well. The NG tube was removed and Kertar was elated, “I could finally wash my face properly!” With better health and quality of life, Kertar hopes to be able to return to work when she fully recovers.
Speech Therapist Eng Tze Hao gives Kertar different food and drinks to assess her ability to swallow safely without choking.
Senior Dietitian Wong Hui Xin maps out detailed meal plans with Kertar to ensure a balanced diet with sufficient nutrition.