My name is Michelle and I was lucky enough to survive oral cancer. My journey has not been long, but it has been mentally exhausting for me and my loved ones. I was fortunate that my doctors found the cancer prior to it spreading.
There is a high mortality rate surrounding oral cancer because there aren't comprehensive programs in the U.S. to screen for the disease. Because I am a non-smoker, oral cancer was overlooked initially. I had seen 5 doctors before my surgery. The first 2 misdiagnosed me with tonsil stones and TMJ, causing these lesions to spread and become more painful and bigger.
There is also a lack of adequate emotional support and research about recovery for patients. Most days I have painful swelling that prevents me from opening up my mouth to talk and eat. Quite often, I endure painful infections that paralyze my mouth and continue to see doctors today that cannot help me with my recovery. But I'm grateful that these are minor hiccups compared to those who have gone through radiation or chemotherapy or who have lost their lives.
The Oral Cancer 5K takes place during the same week of the 2 year anniversary of the oral surgery that saved my life. While I am alive and well, I will walk for those who cannot and spread awareness for who those who cannot speak. Please support me in my first 5k walk for oral cancer and help me bring awareness to a cancer that is often forgotten.