If this happens to you... I would urge you to remember what I say today. The choice to sing or not to sing is just that... a choice. If you want/need to sing bad enough, you can do it in almost all circumstances that leave you still able to speak.
I had an older gentleman in my office yesterday that was recovering from throat cancer and had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from years of smoking. Guess what? He was singing again! He had gained most of his voice back and just needed a little tweaking to help stabilize his control. What helped was his long time habit of standing tall with his head balanced on his spine, like lots of great crooners do. And he is not the first throat cancer survivor I have worked with who gained their voices back.
Got vocal damage? Get medical advice, for sure, but know that with voice rest and corrective training you can recover from vocal nodes or polyps and get your full voice back. Sometimes surgery is employed as remedy of last resort, but most of the time is not needed. Adele proved by her performance at the recent Grammy Awards that you can fully recover from hemorrhaged vocal cords. I myself had damage from an endotracheal tube from which I lost over an octave of range. I fully recovered with vocal training from coach Gerald Arthur, developed more vocal range than ever, was able to continue my session singing and then went on to have my own hit career. That recovery informs my vocal coaching today. One singer, Adley Stump, came to me to deal with vocal strain. I worked with her with vocal lessons and vocal production and she began to sing her powerful style without a problem. She was chosen last week when she performed on "The Voice".
Does this mean you'll win American Idol, The Voice or get signed to a record deal by a major label? No. But what it DOES mean is that if your voice needs to sing again so well that it moves you and whoever is listening to you, it can. And that, in my humble opinion, is the best reason of all to sing.