Brave steps against mouth cancer
 

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Brave steps against mouth cancer

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Brave steps against mouth cancer

 

Brave steps against mouth cancer

John Dabell, a teacher from Nottingham who developed tongue cancer will complete the 10k Mouth Cancer Walk, 'with a drip stand attached if necessary.'

He was diagnosed on 31 March, his daughter's second birthday, after weeks of being in pain with ulcers and a lump on the side of his tongue.

John had been back and forth to his GP who initially thought it was a virus, and then an allergy. Eventually he went to see his dentist: 'He didn't know what to make of things, so referred me to a maxillofacial consultant.'

After the consultant made the diagnosis, John underwent a 15-hour operation at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, which involved breaking his jaw and opening up his face. The cancer had spread to the neck so his lymph nodes were also removed. The operation was a success but he lost 75% of his tongue, so a muscle and skin graft was taken from his left arm to replace it.


John said: 'It was a delicate, time-consuming and incredibly skilful operation that I think about constantly. I am in awe of what the surgeons at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham did. They saved my life.'


Despite all the trauma, John's spirits remain high: 'It's tough, but I'll cope because I have far too much I want to achieve. Although a lot of my taste buds will have been destroyed, I'm determined to eat my Christmas dinner at school [Forest Fields Primary and Nursery School in Nottingham where he teaches Year Six]. Attitude determines altitude and I'm determined to fly high again.'


Because tongue cancer is rare, John had never heard of it, so he is determined to raise awareness of the disease. He is taking part in the 10k Mouth Cancer walk in Hyde Park on 26 September. 'It might not seem much considering I did Ben Nevis a couple of years ago, but it's an important goal for me and I'll do it with a drip stand attached if necessary.'


John's dentist acted responsibly by referring him to a specialist. Vinod Joshi, founder of the Mouth Cancer Foundation says: 'As dental health professionals, we are the natural leaders to lead the fight against mouth cancer.' Here are some signs to watch out for in patients:
•    A sore or ulcer in the mouth that does not heal within three weeks
•    A lump or overgrowth of tissue anywhere in the mouth
•    A red or white patch on the tongue that will not go away
•    Persistent numbness in the mouth
•    A sore throat that does not go away
•    A sore spot on the tongue that does not go away
•    Pain when swallowing.


To support John's charity 10k walk, visit www.justgiving.com/johndabell.

 Posted on : Fri 7th - Aug - 2009

 

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