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ss triple helix - spring 2014,  Thank You with a smile

Thank You with a smile

A personal battle with mouth cancer
Christine Dunningham
Trafford Publishing, 2008, £7.99
Pb 104 pp, ISBN 9781425170806
Reviewed by Andrew Brown, retired Maxillofacial/Head & Neck Surgeon

Mouth cancer is an under-recognised form of malignancy by many doctors. Patients, when given the diagnosis, may even express surprise that it exists. However, there is evidence that it is on the increase in the UK and this personal memoir confirms that it is not confined to the traditional heavy smoker and heavy drinker.

This short account of combined complex surgery and radiotherapy is essentially an expanded personal diary. Key reminders it contains for professionals are the importance of a strong support network in coping with devastating illness, the role of 'lesser' members of the multidisciplinary team in coming alongside at critical moments, the frightening environment of the intensive care unit if communication is difficult, the near bereavement experience of losing taken for granted normal oral function, and the deleterious long term effects of radiotherapy on the oral cavity.

Unfortunately the personal recounting of the day to day medical events, plus the naming of many friends and family members, may make this book of limited value to general readers. However, the author's positive approach, undergirded by her personal faith in Christ, shines through; as do the caring support of her husband and the prayerful encouragement of her church fellowship. Other patients are much less fortunate in this regard.

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