A poem about tongue cancer

Monday 25 August, 2008 by Rita

For the past 6 years I suffered pain to the left side of my face and was treated for neuralgia. By chance in May 2008 I was told to do an MRI of the tongue, which confirmed the tongue was cancerous and had to be removed. This came as a total shock. I was operated early June. The operation involved 'total glossectomy' - removal of the entire tongue and surrounding lymph nodes.

I have been fitted with a 'tongue' using the muscle of my calf, which serves as a 'platform' but will not function as a tongue. From on now I will only be able to eat pureed food and my speech will be slurred.

I wrote this poem and would like to share it with you.


I never would have thought that at 55
I would be learning to speak again but here I am,
determined and alive
I'll get there and feel sane

My tongue was removed, who would have thought?
Seven years of mystery pain, I had to put up with a lot
a-typical neuralgia is what they said I had
ended up with cancer, now isn't that bad?

But life goes on, I can still see, smell and walk
what I have lost is my ability to talk

I feel such love from family and friends
it is important to me, while I'm on the mend

I've always loved life and lived it to the full
yet there is so much more, strings to pull

It's not over, it's just the start
of a whole new world - tread a different path
each day, each week, each month I'll try
see me improve saying this poem,
I'll reach for the skies.

(written to practice on every day until my speech is clear).

Editor's note: If you have, or think you might have, a cancer of the mouth then the following links might be helpful:
Cancer of the mouth, nose & throat
Mouth and oropharyngeal cancer (CancerHelp UK)

Updated: 25 Aug, 2008