Surviving Stage 4 Tongue Cancer: Investigator

Steve Woods, on the left with a fellow cancer patient,  is one of our American members from Kansas City, Missouri. He put this story on our closed Facebook page and I thought it was too good not to share. 

Steve's Story

Imagine you are seeing your doctor for the first time for a physical and she feels a swollen lymph node and the puts you on an antibiotic...

In less than a week your neck looks like the hugest case of the mumps you have ever seen....

She sends you in for a CT Scan...

You don't have to wait long for the results because your friend is the radiologist.......

You talk to him on the phone and that's where you find out you have tongue and lymph node Stage 4 cancer.....And perhaps a met to one of your lungs which would leave you with a very poor prognosis.

As soon as you arrive home you get a call from KU Cancer Center scheduling you for multiple appointments....

You have a biopsy of the tongue and lymph node that confirms your diagnosis....

You then are scheduled for a PET Scan 2 days before Christmas.......

A few days after Christmas you are given the gift to find the spot on your lung is not cancer.... Yet it's a healing pneumonia.

You are scheduled for 3 rounds of the chemo, Cisplatin, but are only able to take 2 because of the damage that has been done to your kidneys

You begin Radiation Treatments after they explain to you what you will be going through.

Up until the end of the 3rd week of Radiation you feel pretty good.

It's then and there you start getting blisters in your mouth and are unable to swallow and you lose your voice and you have to use a grease board to communicate.

Pain meds and magic mouthwash become your best friend.......

You have come to the point it's impossible to swallow so you have a feeding tube placed....

The tube feeding formula gives you constant reflux and you taste it 24 hours a day.

Your biggest fear is aspiration.....

You end up being admitted to the hospital twice for renal failure and dehydration......

Finally after the last Radiation Treatment you get to ring that bell three times...... Man that felt good!

Now comes the hard part.

You start with your dietitian and your speech therapist so you can learn how to swallow again because of the scar tissue from the Radiation has made the swallowing you have known how to do your entire life no longer possible.

The first small amount of food you are able to eat which many may think would be trivial is a huge accomplishment to you and those who love you.

You have days where you are too weak and dizzy to walk even the shortest of distance.

The doc tell you that your recovery phase could take 12 to 18 months......

That seems like it's forever!

As the months go by you reach more milestones......

In closing you might ask if this was all worth it?


I wake up with a huge smile everyday because each day is a gift that I can spend another day with my wife,family and friends.

Last night I got to watch my grandson play baseball.

It was awesome to see him play, fantastic I was still able see him play a game he loves so much.

I'm sharing this to let others know that a cancer diagnosis does not always mean your days are over.

Live life to the fullest and seek treatment and remember you and your family are an important part of your team.

Thank you for telling your story, Steve. It will help others get through the tough treatment.


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  • Great story. I am thrilled by the camaraderie between h & n patients around the world. Time and space does not prevent sharing and hopefulness. Thank you for sharing Steve. 

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