Medical Ambassadors

MR MAHESH KUMAR FDS RCS (Eng), FRCS (Eng)

Mr Mahesh Kumar is an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. Since completing his study in dentistry from Kings College in London in 1990, he has undertaken a number of courses and continued to develop his career in medicine to acquire practical skills and essential experience in ear, nose and throat surgery; accident and emergency medicine; and general surgery.

Mr Kumar currently works as a Consultant at the Hillingdon and North West London Hospitals. He is committed to raising awareness of mouth cancer.

DR HISHAM MEHANNA PhD, BMedSc (hons), MBChB (hons), FRCS, FRCS (ORL-HNS)

Hisham Mehanna is a consultant head and neck and thyroid surgeon, at the University Hospital, Coventry and Heart of England Hospital, Birmingham. He is the Director of the Institute of Head and Neck Studies and Education (www.InHANSE.org). He is also an Honorary Associate Professor at Warwick Medical School. He is the Chair of the Joint Arden Head & Neck Cancer Centre, and the Lead Clinician for Head & Neck and Thyroid Cancer, University Hospital, Coventry. 

His clinical interests are reconstructive microvascular surgery for head neck cancer and thyroid and minimal access parathyroid surgery.  Hisham is on the Council of the British Association of Head Neck Oncologists, the Council of the Royal Society of Medicine Laryngology section, and the Council of the International Association of Oral Oncology.  He is also the Secretary of the Otorhinolaryngological Research Society.

Hisham has a keen interest in clinical research, heading a research team of 10 researchers, and holding approximately £4.5m in research grants. He has published over 40 articles and book chapters, and has given numerous presentations and invited lectures. He also sits on the UK's National Cancer Research Institute head and neck group, and is the Chair of its Surgery and localised therapies subgroup.

MR BHAVIN VISAVADIA BDS (Lond), MBBS(Lond)

Mr Bhavin G Visavadia is a Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. He qualified in medicine and dentistry at King's College London and undertook specialist surgical training at Queen Victoria Hospital East Grinstead, Royal Surrey County Hospital Guildford and at Guy's and King's College Hospitals London.

Mr Visavadia currently works as a Clinical Director for Head and Neck Cancer Services at London North West Healthcare NHS Trust and West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust. He is committed to training junior staff and senior surgical trainees. He has also established a rapid access clinic for suspected neck lumps and oral cancer referrals from GPs and Dentists.

DR PHILIP LEWIS

Dr Philip Lewis qualified in London in 1977. He has worked in general practice and as a clinical assistant in the hospital service. Philip takes a keen interest in postgraduate education, development of the dental team and public awareness of dental issues. He is on the Editorial Advisory Board of both Private Dentistry and Aesthetic Dentistry Today magazines, has received awards for commitment to postgraduate education, belongs to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and the British Dental Bleaching Society and is a former board director of The British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

In addition, Philip is a long-serving member of the British Dental Association and acts as a media spokesman. He has made many television and radio appearances and had numerous articles and interviews published in the Dental and and Consumer press. He has been short listed in the Dentist of the Year Awards and has lectured to other dentists on clinical innovations and practice management issues.

For the past 8 years he has been closely involved with the early detection of mouth cancer, lecturing regularly and training dental teams. Philip continues to publish regular articles on equipment and products, clinical techniques, patient care and reviews of professional textbooks. He lectures both to the profession and the public on a variety of dentally related topics. Philip also runs a single-handed private dental practice on the Isle of Wight.

People's Ambassadors

PAT JONES

Pat Jones and her family are tireless campaigners for the Mouth Cancer Foundation.  Pat admits that before her daughter, Clare Jones, fell victim to tongue cancer at the age of just 23 years old in April 2007, she knew little about the disease.  Now Pat is on a mission to raise as much awareness about this lesser known cancer as she can.   She says "25% of mouth cancer cases are not associated with any known risk factor, hence the need for vigilance. If you notice a lump in your mouth that wasn't there before or a mouth ulcer which lasts for more than 3 weeks, you should see a dentist or doctor immediately."

Clare was a student at Loughborough University when she was first diagnosed in February 2003.  5 months later she became a member of the Mouth Cancer Foundation's Forum after an operation to remove the right side of her tongue, reconstruction with a flap from her right forearm and a neck dissection. Clare joined the Mouth Cancer Foundation initially to find out how others coped.  In Clare's words "I would like to discuss my feelings with people who have experienced the same operation as myself".

In June 2005 Clare graduated from Loughborough with a first in Information Management and Business Studies and got a job at the Swansea NHS Trust.  Within 12 months Clare had secondary bone cancer and bravely went through the treatments offered.  It was a difficult time for her and she was very, very scared.   She worried about the effects of chemo and fertility but finished her chemotherapy and was looking forward to a better 2007. Unfortunately, the MRI scans showed no change in the size of her cancer, which eventually spread to her brain and Clare passed away peacefully with her family by her side.

Clare and her family have always been valued members of the Mouth Cancer Foundation and are happy for her story to be heard to educate and inform others about Mouth Cancer. The charity is indebted to the fundraising and awareness campaigning that Pat does in memory of Clare. Clare would be hugely proud of her family.

Patient Ambassadors

STUART CAPLAN

Stuart lives in Marylebone with his wife Susan. He is a business consultant at St. James's Place Wealth Management. He was     diagnosed with tongue cancer in May 2012 after suffering with a number of symptoms for a year which four of the doctors he consulted failed to diagnose as cancer.  His dentist also failed to pick up on his condition.

At that time he was told that surgery was not an option, and so he commenced chemotherapy in June 2012 followed by radiotherapy.  An attempt to install a RIG feeding tube failed so the procedure was attempted a second time. This was abandoned when the radiologist realised that due to his anatomy it would have been impossible to successfully insert the tube.  All attempts to complete this procedure were abandoned. This meant that Stuart had to struggle through the radiotherapy which destroyed his ability to eat and drink.   The first chemotherapy drug he was given combined with the fluid in his abdomen caused by the failed RIG tube insertion caused renal failure.  This could have meant that Stuart faced dialysis for life or requiring a kidney transplant.   Stuart also underwent intensive radiotherapy. The side effects included severe nausea and various infections one of which attacked his eyes and devoured the skin on his neck and chest. All this meant that he was hospitalised for most of the second half of 2012.

The four months post-treatment PET/CT scan showed that although the cancer had not spread, the combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy had failed to destroy it.   At this point he was offered surgery. The surgery offered was a glossotomy which could potentially have had a devastating impact on his life. He was therefore referred to a psychiatrist to assess his suitability for this procedure.  Prior to surgery Stuart married Susan, his partner of eighteen years. Following a short honeymoon in Paris he had a PEG feeding tube fitted followed by the surgery on 19 February 2013. The ENT surgeon removed 2/3 of his tongue and the maxillofacial surgeon built a tongue flap with tissue taken from Stuart's thigh. A neck dissection was also performed to remove lymph nodes.

Over a year post-surgery Stuart is active, speaking, eating and drinking. This has involved a lot of hard work and focus but shows the determination to overcome obstacles is typical of him.  Life is slowly returning to normal, and in addition to his professional career he also does voluntary work for Mouth Cancer Foundation, The Rarer Cancers Foundation, Macmillan, Cancer Voices and as a Patient Representative at London Cancer.   He is also piloting a Skype based buddying and mentoring project.  He believes that he may have cancer but cancer hasn't got him. Or to put it another way, in prizefighting there is an expression: "Everyone has a plan until they've been hit." Well my friend, you've just been hit. The getting up is up to you.'  

EVA GRAYZEL

I'm a stage IV survivor or oral cancer at the age of 33 in the United States. I never smoked and rarely drink. Why was this obvious sore on the lateral border on my tongue not investigated properly? I believe it's all about education. Dental professionals need to take continuing education on the current research on mouth cancer. This is not about cosmetic dentistry; this is about saving lives. The general public needs to be educated, too, so they know what a dentist is looking for when they do a mouth cancer screening. If I knew some of the signs, a non-healing sore being one of them, I would have been more proactive in finding a solution to the pain and discomfort I felt on my tongue. Instead, I just followed doctors' orders, which was, "If it doesn't get better, come back." Actually, by saying this, they were asking me to self-diagnose myself. They should be the ones checking the symptoms and deciding what the next step should be to find a solution.

Having two young children watch me endure the devastating and public effects of treatment, I wrote two children's books, everything I wished my children had during that time to empower them with understanding and how to make a difference. 'Mr. C Plays Hide and Seek' is written in first person by Mr. C the cancer cell himself. Check out the books at Talk4Hope.com.

It's been 15 years since my late stage diagnosis. I beat the odds. I can't ethically live this beautiful life without doing what I can to prevent this disease from happening to others. I've developed an oral cancer awareness campaign called, Six-Step Screening, six steps to a thorough oral cancer screening. SixStepScreening.org. Due to the new association with the HPV virus, I've written a 'Rap' to raise awareness among young people:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=448ah5QS4rY. I am proud to associate myself with The Mouth Cancer Foundation who works equally as hard educating the British public about mouth cancer, and in turn inspires dental professionals to stay up-to-date on the latest discoveries about this disease. Keep up the great work!

SUZANNE MAUTSCHKE

Suzanne lives in Surrey with her husband and works as a Latin America analyst. She was diagnosed with tongue cancer at the age of 26. Following surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, she has been cancer -free for the past six years.

Suzanne is keen to raise awareness of head and neck cancers. She found the Mouth Cancer Foundation's online support group extremely helpful and she now wants to support other patients, particularly young people who are trying to get a better understanding of their illness.

STEVE HARRIS AKA HAGG

Steve, who is better known as Hagg, is 43 years old and has been married to Hazel for 21 years. He was diagnosed with mouth cancer in 1997 when he was just 28 years old. He had extensive surgery and Radiotherapy followed by reconstructive surgery.

Steve has been a patient ambassador for the Mouth Cancer Foundation for a few years now. He frequently attends patient events on behalf of the charity.

Steve says "The Mouth Cancer Foundation has helped me and also, helped me to support other cancer patients when they most need it. I'm into motorcycles, tattoos, tortoises and music. I worked as a Health Care Assistant for a while and I'm now a Physiotherapy Assistant at the hospital that gave me such brilliant care and ultimately saved my life."

Celebrity Ambassadors

JOANNE JACKSON

http://www.mouthcancerfoundation.org/sites/mcfdev/files/body/About/photo1.jpgJoanne Jackson, the Olympic Bronze medallist and former 400 metres freestyle world record holder, has been an Ambassador of the Mouth Cancer Foundation since November 2014. She is keen to support our charity and says "The risk of cancer, including oral cancer, can be reduced by staying a healthy weight, being physically active on a regular basis, making healthy food choices with a focus on fruit and vegetables, cutting back on alcohol and quitting smoking. Oral cancer is a hidden killer which is escalating at a fast pace. It is affecting more and more young people. Spreading the word about the risk factors and prevention is no easy task. This is why events such as Mouth Cancer Action Month are vital to raising public awareness so people can take the necessary steps to safeguard themselves and their families against the disease. Unfortunately, people engage in many lifestyle activities that increase their risk of oral cancer. Smoking, drinking, exposure to the Human Papilloma Virus during sexual activity and a poor diet as well as genetic factors predispose us to oral cancer."

NATASHA HAMILTON

Pop star Natasha Hamilton has been a patron of the Mouth Cancer Foundation since 2007.   The former Atomic Kitten band member is a keen supporter of the charity and helps to raise awareness for mouth cancer as it is a disease which touched her own family.  

Natasha says "Mouth Cancer is a disease that has affected my family as it is how my Nan died.  I originally became involved through the Mouth Cancer Voice Awards to raise awareness of Mouth Cancer especially in the student world, which was a great way to have fun and draw attention to this little known, but deadly disease".