I started my neck cancer journey in April 2018. I had a 13-hour surgery to remove the cancer on the right side of my neck. The surgeon used a free flap taken from my left, upper leg to replace the skin, muscle and nerves they removed during the procedure.
After surgery, I started radiation. I had to undergo 36 treatments which caused my skin to burn. The redness and irritation was sometimes unbearable and kept up for two weeks after the sessions. Thankfully, though, the pain subsided after the course of radiation was through.
Later, I had two operations to reduce the size of the flap. The first procedure in 2019 and another in 2020. After recovering, I remember looking in the mirror—I began to look like me, again.
Three years after my initial surgery, I had a PET scan and was given the all clear. I was cancer free! What a huge relief! I was so grateful to the medical staff who took such excellent care of me on my journey.
I hope this gives patients courage during their journey to remain positive. It wasn’t an easy path to tread—at times it was truly painful, but I made it through to the other side. And, so can you!
Will You Share Your Journey?
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. As part of that theme, we post stories written by oral cancer survivors, caregivers and medical professionals for our 30 Stories in 30 Days™ campaign. The insights they share can help others along their journey.