Half of my tongue is gone, but I couldn’t be happier

I’ve had four of my back teeth removed, the floor of my mouth rebuilt and more than half of my tongue replaced with an arm muscle. But other than a slight lisp and some scars on my neck and forearm, there are no obvious signs that I once had stage IV squamous cell carcinoma, a type of oral cancer. Recovery from my oral cancer treatment was not fun. It was hard and scary and painful. But it was also worth it. That’s why I want to share my story both here and through myCancerConnection, MD Anderson’s one-on-one cancer support community. I want other people facing a similar diagnosis — particularly young mothers — to see that there’s a bright and happy light at the end of that long, dark, uncomfortable tunnel. My oral cancer symptoms My first symptom of oral cancer was a small, white patch on the underside of my tongue. It randomly appeared in 2011, and was very sensitive and painful. Since I was only about six weeks away from delivering my second child, I assumed it was one of the million weird things that can go on in your body during pregnancy.  When it didn’t go away in a week or two, I mentioned it to my OB-GYN. She said it wasn’t pregnancy-related and sent me to a dentist, who said it wasn’t a normal mouth sore and sent me to an oral surgeon. The oral surgeon did a biopsy, which came back negative. He said it was a callus and would resolve on its own. I delivered my daughter a few weeks later and lived...