Got CANCER LICKED
Liz Marsh, 29, from Shrewsbury, thought stress had caused her tongue ulcer...
Pacing the hospital waiting room, each second passed like an hour. It was summer 2016, and me and my husband James, 31, were anxiously waiting while our 5-month-old son Charlie was having heart surgery.
During my pregnancy, we’d found out that the left side of Charlie’s heart was underdeveloped.
It had been a stressful year. No wonder I’d got an ulcer on my tongue, too.
Thankfully, Charlie’s op was a success and he recovered well.
With my baby home, happy and healthy, I tried to forget about the small white patch on the left side of my tongue.
But a week on, it was getting worse. It was now the size of a 5p piece and painful, especially when I was eating.
‘This can’t be normal,’
I groaned to James.
‘You should see a dentist,’ he said.
Over the next four weeks, I saw dentists and doctors, until I was referred to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital for a biopsy.
The patch was bigger, going dark.
A week later, in October 2016, I got the horrifying news.
‘I’m afraid it’s oral cancer,’ my consultant told me. ‘Your ulcer is a tumour.’
My baby! I thought tearfully.
assured me the cancer could be treated. A third of my tongue would be removed then rebuilt using skin, muscle, veins and arteries from my arm.
It was a lot to take in, but I’d do anything to make sure my son didn’t grow up without his mum.
James was devastated when I told him, but he was so supportive. ‘We’ll get you through this,’ he said. Four weeks after diagnosis,
I went to Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital for surgery. ‘Good luck,’ smiled James before I went into theatre.
The 14-hour op was successful, but my arm felt so sore when I woke up, and my mouth was so swollen I couldn’t speak.
Looking under the bandage on my left arm, I winced at the large wound stretching from my wrist to just below my elbow.
I also had a scar on my neck from the 58 lymph nodes that had been removed to prevent the cancer from spreading.
But it was all worth it if it got rid of the cancer.
I was discharged after 11 days, but needed speech and language therapy to help me talk again.
I was nervous to leave the hospital, wondered how I’d cope at home.
While on the ward, I was being fed through a tube. But when I left, I was given special juices and shakes to make sure I got all the vitamins and nutrients I needed.
Eventually, I was able to eat blended meals, too, as if it were baby food.
James was brilliant. He looked after our son and cared for me at the same time.
Luckily, I didn’t need chemo or radiotherapy, and in December 2016,
I was relieved to hear that I was in remission.
And by February 2017, I was finally able to speak and eat again.
‘I’ve missed pizza!’ I grinned to James.
I still have regular checkups, but my consultant is pleased with my recovery.
The grafted part of my tongue is still numb and scarred, with no feeling or taste buds. It’s like having your mouth anaesthetised at the dentist’s all the time.
But it doesn’t bother me, and the rest is fine.
Now, I’m focusing on being the best mum I can be to my little Charlie.
I was finally able to speak and eat again. I’d missed pizza!
I had to beat it for my son
James was my rock
My sore tongue