The week of April 27- May 3 2009 is Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week.
If you smoke and drink you should pay attention to this story and more importantly what's going on inside your mouth, head and neck. We met a woman who had cancer of the larynx and wants to use her voice to make you aware of the symptoms.
Jeanne says, "I started losing my voice once in a while. I'd get hoarse and I originally thought it's because I'd go to my daughters softball games and I'd be screaming. Overtime, it was happening more often until finally it got to the point all I could do is whisper. It's so frustrating when you can't communicate. My granddaughter only whispered when she spoke to me because that's how I talked. You should have seen her face when she heard me talk after my treatment."
She had a tumor on her voice box. She had been treated for acid reflux by her regular doctor so by the time she saw Dr. Tolentino the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and they found a spot on her lung.
Dr. Tolentino says, "It used to be we treated this type of cancer very aggressively and take out the voice box. Today we are able to cure larynx cancer with chemo and radiation. In Jeanne's case we were very successful. Jeanne underwent aggressive chemo therapy and radiation at the same time."
85% of head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco use. Early detection is key in curing it.
Here are some warning signs:
-a sore in your mouth that doesn't heal
-a lump in your neck
-bleeding from the nose
--redness around the mouth, under or on the tongue
-and changes or hoarseness in the voice
Jeanne says, "You have to trust your instincts. I think we like the fact that we are told nothing is wrong and you aren't going to press the issue. But if you have a gut instinct you have to go with it. I wish I would have a long time ago. It turned out well though."
Now that Jeanne is a full fledged cancer survivor and her voice is back, she is using it to tell you to listen to the voice in your head when it's telling you something is wrong. It's usually right.
Just a reminder, April 29th at Midwest Ear, Nose and Throat in Sioux Falls they are holding FREE head and neck cancer screenings from 9:00 to 4:00. You need to schedule an appointment by calling 1.888.336.3503.