SW's story

SW was diagnosed with Cancer (an adenocarcinoma) in the roof of her mouth 25 years ago. This is her story.

In 1983 when I was 4 months short of my 58th birthday, I had Cancer of the soft palate. It started with a small blister on the roof of my mouth that didn’t trouble me; I had no pain. In fact, I forgot about it for quite a while. Then after a few weeks, I started to get a pain in my nose. So, towards the end of April I went to see my GP in Normanton. Dr Gupta wrote to the specialist on 25 April 1983 to arrange to see me (to exclude a cancer, as I found out later).

The specialist, Mr Donald Dyson was from St James Hospital, Leeds but he held a clinic at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield. So the next week, I travelled there and had my first consultation with him. He noted “a deep, punched–out ulcer about 3-4 mm in diameter behind the posterior edge of the upper full denture”. He arranged to carry out a biopsy of the ulcer the following week. This was done on the 11 May 1983.

The following week I returned back to Pinderfields for the results. On 17 May 1983, Mr Dyson informed me it was Cancer (an adenocarcinoma) and he referred me to Cookridge Hospital. Here on 23 May 1983 I saw a total of four doctors there who concluded that in their opinion the Cancer could be treated with radium radiotherapy.

However, the following week I received a letter from Cookridge to say they had decided against radium. This was due to the position and type of Cancer. So, therefore it had to be surgery.

So, back to Pinderfields to Mr Dyson where he performed the operation, removing part of my soft palate on 8 June 1983. Unfortunately he was unable to remove it all, so I had to go back the next week and this time it was a success. I did wear full dentures at the time, so I was quickly made comfortable with a false palate added to my original plate. This was all arranged through St James Hospital in Leeds.

Mr Dyson was a very caring Doctor; I can’t thank him enough for all he did for me. I saw him for many years through check ups. Since 1993, I am in the kind care of Dr Joshi and he too is a very kind man. I have had excellent care from the nurses and Doctors; the National Health has been very good to me. I have been able to talk and eat well despite the defect in my palate.

It is now January 2006 and I am over 80 years and still in good health. I saw Dr Joshi last week and my mouth is fine. He said "see you next year". He is optimistic!

SW

Dr Joshi's Update (December 2007):

Earlier this year SW started complaining of an ache and numbness in the cheek bone under the left eye and she thought it might be her upper denture digging in. I eased it but as her complaint appeared more than explainable by this, I asked our maxillofacial surgeon to investigate further and a MRI scan confirmed a new cancer. Owing to SW's age and health and considerations of quality of life, she is currently having palliative radiotherapy. I saw her with her granddaughter in November to ease the denture and also help improve its retention as the cancer has altered the supporting bone. Maybe, I will see her in 2008.

Dr Joshi's Update (July 2008):

I saw SW again in April 2008 to modify her denture to improve comfort and retention. Her condition unfortunately deteriorated and she passed away at the end of June 2008, two months short of her 83rd birthday. SW was a sweet person.