Oral cancer: My perspective

As a PhD student researching cancer, I have heard time and time again the latest cancer statistics and the latest idea of how to ‘beat’ cancer. However, it never crossed my mind that I, a healthy and happy 25 year old, would be diagnosed with oral cancer.

Cancer is never far from the headlines and every patient has their own story to tell, but I hope in writing this to share my personal experience from the rare position of a young patient and a scientist. That in the future, the causes of oral cancer in young people will be thoroughly researched to improve diagnosis and treatment, and that society will become more aware of the disease.

As a normal student in my twenties, I was busy living life to the full, juggling my time between family, friends, work and other interests. About the time I first felt pain in my mouth, my fiancé and I were busy planning our wedding. I found some ulcers under my tongue and tried various off-the-shelf products, which had little effect. It did not even cross my mind that it could be anything serious. I went to see a GP about it a couple of months later, and was prescribed another anti-inflammatory drug.

In the week leading up to our wedding we had a family tragedy, so I returned to see my GP only after our honeymoon. I felt exhausted, run down and had persistent ulcers and mouth pain. I was convinced that my stressful life was causing the symptoms. My GP looked at my mouth over this period, thought the ulcers were clearing up and agreed they were likely to be a sign of stress. Gradually my mouth became more painful, my speech slurred, eating difficult and sleep sparse. I struggled with normal life. My husband and friends were increasingly concerned and encouraged me to keep going back to the GP, who a few weeks later referred me to the dental hospital, but informed me that I would not be seen quickly as I was young, healthy and had never smoked.

READ THE FULL STORY: Oral cancer: My perspective

Will-ing to support mouth cancer charity

William howesA local man has gone Dutch to raise money for a leading mouth cancer charity. For 25 year-old William Howes from Howden, the Amsterdam Marathon on Sunday 20 October is a chance to raise valuable awareness and funds for Mouth Cancer Action Month, after the disease claimed the life of his uncle in May this year.
 
The gruelling 26.2 mile course will start and finish in Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium. Having previously run the Istanbul Marathon last November, William is ‘training hard and preparing well’ for this year’s event against the backdrop of a difficult year.
Mouth cancer campaigners the British Dental Health Foundation raise awareness of the disease through Mouth Cancer Action Month, taking place throughout November. With cases increasing annually, William’s experience is becoming all too frequent.