I am 27 years old and I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue on Feb.6,2003. At the time I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with my second daughter. I have never smoked. chewed tobacco, etc.. I wasn't a risk candidate. This all started out as an ulcer under my tongue 3 months before! My ENT dr. decided to wait until I delivered to do a partial glossectomy. I delivered two weeks early to a healthy girl on 2/15 and on 2/21 I went back to the hospital for the surgery. He removed 1/4 front left portion of my tongue. The dr also took 8 frozen sections to check for a clear margin. I was in ICU for 2 days and then on the oncology floor for 3 days. I was able to get down liquids, broths, shakes and some cream soups. The resulst of the frozen margins came back from the lab clear of cancer. After about 2 weeks I progressed to soft foods and did very well.
I then went to the Univ of Pennsylvania (in Phila., PA) for a second opinion with the director of Head and Neck Surgery. He felt that the 1st surgery wasn't enough to make sure there was a clear margin plus needed to do a neck dissection to remove the salivary gland and lymphnodes. They would also reconstruct my tongue using the muscle and arteries from my forearm and then take a skin graft from my thigh to cover my forearm.
Needless to say this was very overwhelming! I just gave birth three weeks before and he was telling me that I would need more surgery in two weeks. I knew that I had to do it and the chances of me needing radiation were slim to none. He wanted to save radiation as a last resort due to my age. So 3/31 I went back into the hospital. I had the hemi-gloseectomy, graft, flap reconstruction, tracheostomy, and radial neck dissection.
I was in the ICU for 3 days and oncology floor for 4 days. I left the hospital with the trach and with a feeding tube down my nose to my stomache. I wasn't tolerating the tube feeds very well. They kept expecting me to be taking in much more than I was and I kept getting sick. What they failed to realize was that I haven't eaten normally since Oct. so my stomache wasn't used to having a lot in it! The good side effect has been the weight loss! I went for my check up two days ago and they took the trach and the feedong tube out! I was sooooo excited!! I am now on a liquid diet of broths, shakes, and cream soups. I have dropped 50 lbs since having my daughter 2 months ago but no harm done! I start to see the speech therapist this week and am on the road to recovery. I just try to keep it positive and light at all times. I am recooperating at my parent's house an hour away. The hard thing is being away from my girls.