Oral cancer survivor finds her strength

As a registered nurse, Asha Bhandari was familiar with cancer – even less common cancer types, like oral cancer. But she never believed she’d receive her own diagnosis, even when she first noticed the sore on her lower gum – an oral cancer symptom. Even when that sore started to grow after a few weeks. And even when the oral surgeon took a biopsy and three days later gave her the news that it was cancerous. “I was so devastated,” Asha says, remembering her diagnosis at age 54. “I ate right. I exercised. I didn’t smoke. I was healthy. I didn’t think I fit the profile of a cancer patient.” Asha came to MD Anderson for a second opinion, and met with Randal Weber, M.D. He performed a series of tests, X-rays, blood tests and CT scans. He confirmed the news Asha had refused to believe: she had squamous cell carcinoma of the gum, a type of oral cancer. But he also gave her hope. “I remember it exactly,” she says. “Dr. Weber called me and he said, ‘The good news is, we’re going to cure you.’ To me, that was big.” Now under the care of MD Anderson’s Head and Neck team, Asha gained a growing feeling of ease. She was scared, but she knew her multidisciplinary team would take care of her. Undergoing oral cancer surgery Asha’s oral cancer surgery was scheduled for Sept. 25, 2015 – just a month after her diagnosis. Doctors planned to remove the tumor and see if the cancer had spread to any nearby lymph nodes, but to do this they would need...

Oral cancer survivor finds her strength

As a registered nurse, Asha Bhandari was familiar with cancer – even less common cancer types, like oral cancer. But she never believed she’d receive her own diagnosis, even when she first noticed the sore on her lower gum – an oral cancer symptom. Even when that sore started to grow after a few weeks. And even when the oral surgeon took a biopsy and three days later gave her the news that it was cancerous. “I was so devastated,” Asha says, remembering her diagnosis at age 54. “I ate right. I exercised. I didn’t smoke. I was healthy. I didn’t think I fit the profile of a cancer patient.” Asha came to MD Anderson for a second opinion, and met with Randal Weber, M.D. He performed a series of tests, X-rays, blood tests and CT scans. He confirmed the news Asha had refused to believe: she had squamous cell carcinoma of the gum, a type of oral cancer. But he also gave her hope. “I remember it exactly,” she says. “Dr. Weber called me and he said, ‘The good news is, we’re going to cure, you.’ To me, that was big.” Now under the care of MD Anderson’s Head and Neck team, Asha gained a growing feeling of ease. She was scared, but she knew her multidisciplinary team would take care of her. Undergoing oral cancer surgery Asha’s oral cancer surgery was scheduled for Sept. 25, 2015 – just a month after her diagnosis. Doctors planned to remove the tumor and see if the cancer had spread to any nearby lymph nodes, but to do this they would need...