30 Stories in 30 Days
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. For the next 4 weeks, we will post stories written by cancer survivors, caregivers and friends for our 30 Stories in 30 Days campaign. We hope their perspectives and insight will help others along their journey.
Before this all started, I had a perfectly normal life. Despite an open heart surgery in 2001, I was in great health and happiness. Then one day I noticed a sore on my tongue that wouldn’t go away. My niece, who is a dentist, recommended I see an oral surgeon. The oral surgeon took a biopsy. It wasn’t good news.
I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue. My nephew, who is a physician, told me to seek out the best head and neck cancer doctor in the country. This man had the best reputation for providing quality care and skillful surgery. Do you know anyone who can walk on water? I know a guy: his name is Dr. Mark Urken. I have complete faith in him. Whatever he says, I do. I wouldn’t be here today if I weren’t put in his hands.
I went through two or three surgeries, I can’t even remember. I also had two separate bouts of radiation therapy. I can’t lie, it was tough. The last two weeks of radiation were the worst. I was almost ready to pack it up and call it a day, but I thought to myself: NEVER SURRENDER. Everybody has different ways of handling tough situations. But I sat and looked above my fireplace, saw pictures of my children, my grandchildren, my wife, and I said… I’m not ready to check out just yet.
My advice to those who have a suspicion of head and neck cancer: get an appointment with a doctor you trust and respect. And most of all, NEVER SURRENDER.
One day I’m gonna go, just like all the rest of us. But I’m sure as hell not giving up. Never, ever surrender. That’s my motto, and I live by it.