Mum Who Lost Her Tongue To Cancer Has A New One Made From Her Arm
A woman who lost her tongue during a battle with cancer has now got a new one, made from a part of her arm.
Thirty-six-year-old Stephanie Wigglesworth, from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, received the horrific news that she had squamous cell carcinoma after her tongue started to feel numb and developed a small ulcer.
The treatment doesn't sound pleasant. She underwent six operations, each four hours long, during which the surgeons cut into her through the neck and sliced off half of her tongue, right down the middle.
Then, they took a long vein from her arm, some skin and a bit of muscle, and constructed her a new one.
Despite not being able to talk as easily as she had done, and having to eat through a straw, she is now cancer free.
She said: "The surgery was long and I was exhausted when I finally woke up.
"My arm, where the skin was removed, hurt more than my mouth, which I couldn't believe.
"All my friends and family know I'm a positive person.
"When you get cancer, it's like you're being forced into a club that you don't want to join.
"I want my old voice back, but I can't, so I just have to accept it."
It all began with recurring ulcers on the tongue, accompanied by some painful migraines. In early 2013 her tongue went numb and started tingling.
After a day where she'd left work before it had become too much, she realised that she needed to go to the doctor.
She continued: "I went to my out-of-hours doctor in February 2013 and I was originally told that I was suffering from transient ischemic attack (TIA) which is like a stroke.
"I went straight to hospital where I had lots of scans, but they came back as inconclusive.
"I was sent home as they didn't see anything suspicious, but I wasn't happy."
After googling her symptoms - not always a great idea - she was taken to pages that mentioned tongue cancer.
She explained: "It sounded like I might have it and I read that the survival rate was as low as 50 percent - it was the final straw.
"I called my neurologist and insisted that I was checked over."
After her diagnosis, Stephanie endured a tough time, having been a smoker but contracting an illness most common amongst men over 45, while aged only 30 herself.
She added: "I knew it was really bad because they insisted my husband Gary, 40, and my kids, Kieran, 14, and Daisy, eight, come into the room with me.
"When the doctor told me I had mouth cancer all I heard was white noise.
"I just knew, I had a gut feeling that I had cancer. And I was right.
"I still have nightmares about it.
"I was a smoker so I felt like I deserved it, but I just wanted to stick around for my children to remember me.
"As soon as the doctor mentioned the word cancer, I told him not to say anymore until my kids were out of the room. I didn't want them to be there for that."
That's when they performed the surgery, and constructed her new tongue from part of her left forearm. They also had to perform radiotherapy after the cancer spread to her lymph nodes.
Despite all she's been through, she remains positive and even writes a blog, called 'My Cancer and Me'.
She's also managed to keep going by drinking plenty of tea.
She explained: "I can't help it, I love tea.
"I miss all of the lovely food we used to eat as a family - steaks and sandwiches.
"I'm a really positive person, so although the treatment was difficult, I've come out smiling and grateful."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS