In April 2015 a knot (the size of a pea) formed inside theleft corner of my mouth. Six weeks afterconsulting an oral surgeon I was at UAB for surgery to remove a squamouscarcinoma that had grown to 4.5cm. Afterfirst hearing the diagnosis, it took me several weeks to use the wordcancer. I would use the technical termsbut cancer was a scary word. Dr. AnthonyMorlandt was my maxillofacial surgeon and was a great help in the diagnosis andtreatment plan. Most of the inside of mymouth on the left side was scooped out and tissue and veins from my left armwas used to reconstruct the area, along with a layer of skin from my leftthigh. I looked like a war zone when Ifirst came home. In June I started 7 weeks of radiation under the supervision ofDr. Traci McCormick at the Cancer Center in Decatur.
After radiation treatments ended I settled into a routineand we began to look at the next steps in the reconstruction process. Dr. Morlandt noticed a spot on the roof ofmy mouth during my January follow-up appointment. A biopsy showed that the cancer had returned.
After the initialshock and a time to catch my breath and center myself, reconstruction for thefirst cancer surgery was put on hold and we began to look at options and makedecisions for a new treatment plan. Thetumor board at UAB recommended a very conservative plan that takes into accountother health issues.
I am scheduled for surgery on March 8, 2016. The surgery will involve removing the tumorand the tissue and bone surrounding the tumor area. An obturator , which is adental prosthetic, has been created and will be put in place duringsurgery. The obturator will replace anybone taken from the upper jaw bone, add support to the excised area, and coverthe palate. This will allow me to talkand eat.
Four to six months after surgery we will discuss how theobturator is working for me and whether I want to continue with the prostheticor go back for more surgery that will reconstruct the area using issue and bonefrom my body. The biggest problem isthat they usually take the tissue and bone from the legs but they do not wantto do this because of heart and circulation issues.
Tuesday’s surgery (March 8), will not be an all-day surgeryand my time in hospital will be shorter than the first surgery for cancer.
Tish McMillan Alspach setup this site for me and will postand keep everyone up to date while I am in surgery and in the hospital.