In 2017 at the age of 37 I found a swollen gland on the left side of my throat. I was originally diagnosed with strep but after several rounds of antibiotics the infection persisted and eventually what my ENT called a Brachial Cleft Cyst had to be surgically removed. Standard biopsies following that surgery resulted in a diagnosis of Stage IV Squamous Cell Carcinoma, HPV+. My treatment course included 35 doses of radiation over the course of 7 weeks. Additionally, I was scheduled for 3 rounds of chemotherapy however only completed 2 due to complications with my kidneys after the second.
Treatment was grueling and post treatment recovery has been long. I had to learn to eat again after spending 8 months with a feeding tube. I lost most of my muscle mass and about 30% of my hearing due to ototoxicity and I now wear hearing aids. My relationship with food has changed entirely as I still have very little taste.
Head and neck cancer has impacted every part of my life and that of my family. I’m grateful to be able to move forward with my family and feel that I will get on my soap box and shout from the roof tops about vaccinations for HPV for the rest of my life. We can prevent this kind of cancer!
**The Never Alone Foundation and Manitoba Dentist hold a free oral cancer screening every April.
When in Doubt Get Checked Out!