Survivor Stories

Eric: Tongue Cancer Survivor

As an aspiring vocalist, 17-year-old Eric Bowles was excited to begin taking vocal lessons in February of 2009. At the time, he was focused on what most teenagers think about―school, friends and, of course, his singing. 

By mid-March, Eric had found a sore on his tongue. Thinking it was a canker sore, he showed it to his mother. Believing the same, she told him to use warm water and salt to help it heal. Within a week, it had gotten worse.

Gina: Oral Cancer Survivor

Gina had been experiencing severe pain in her mouth, tongue, and gums. Unable to tolerate the pain, she sought out medical advice and was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve. 

After her diagnosis, she worked with a neurologist to help manage her pain. But, after three years the pain was getting worse until it became chronic and completely debilitating. “The pain was so much to bear—my personality began to change, my sleep patterns were awry, and I completely lost feeling in my tongue to the point where swallowing was just a numb sensation,” said Gina. Her world was turned upside down and she felt hopeless.