A single mum who is recovering from mouth cancer surgery is urging people not to delay getting oral ulcers checked out.
Tracey Longmuir suffered intermittently from ulcers in her mouth.
But it was only when one got “unbearable” in December last year that she realised it was very serious.
She was referred to the Ear, Nose and Throat department at Peterborough City Hospital in January where doctors immediately diagnosed it as cancer.
At Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge Tracey underwent radical facial surgery on February 17 and had further treatment to fight the disease which is almost unheard of in fit, young women.
She said: “I had a partial glossectomy to remove part of my tongue.
“Surgeons then replaced it with muscle and tissue from my arm.
“To reconstruct the tongue they had to break my chin and dislocate my jaw.
“The incision went back up from my neck to my ear. I now have metal plates to hold my jaw together.”
Tracey, of Corby Glen, who is mum to two-year-old Conor, said: “I’ve had mouth ulcers off and on for about 18 months.
“I also used to get very tired and was losing weight, but I put it all down to the pressures of running a business and bringing up a child.
“It’s only when the ulcer got unbearable that I took a good look at it, checked it out on Google and realised it was probably caner.
“So my advice to anyone is get it checked out and insist on being referred to a hospital.”
Mouth cancer is relatively rare and accounts for only one in 50 of all cancer cases. It is more common in men.
In the UK, just over 6,200 new cases of mouth cancer were diagnosed in 2009 (the latest year from which data is available).
Tracey, who has had to undergo six weeks of radiotherapy following her surgery said: “It has all healed quite well now but I am still on morphine to get through the day pain free”.
But four months on she is still on liquid foods.
“Until now dealing with the scars on my face was the biggest challenge,” she said.
“But not being able to eat, because of not being able to chew and difficulty with swallowing, is proving a bigger problem.
“It’s really hard to manage every day without proper food.”
Tracey, of Corby Glen, who owns Isis Pet Care in Bourne, providing dog walking, pet sitting, boarding and dog training service in the Bythams, Stamford, Deepings and surrounding areas, said she was very grateful to her team led by Jill Halliday who made sure the business was running smoothly while she was ill.
She said: “All through this difficult period the girls in the office have kept the business going.
“It has even grown.”
Her customers, too, have rallied and earlier this month raised £1,400 for the British Red Cross’s Macmillan team and the Mouth Cancer Awareness Foundation by holding a quiz and raffle at the Nags Head in Bourne, where the pub provided the room and food free of charge.
Tracey, who was invited to Downing Street last year to discuss how the Government can help single mums start their own business, also attended a Buckingham Palace garden party in June.