Word of Mouth Offers Support to Patients with Mouth, Head and Neck Cancers

Posted on: 30 September 2013

The School of Dental Science at Trinity College Dublin has recently launched a book of memoirs, thoughts and advice from mouth, head and neck cancer survivors and healthcare professionals involved in their care. The book is entitled Word of Mouth – Coping with and Surviving Mouth, Head and Neck Cancers.

Word of Mouth includes both professional healthcare advice and stories from people with direct experience of diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Full of accessible, humorous, poignant, practical and inspiring advice and suggestions, it is particularly relevant for people who have been diagnosed with mouth, head and neck cancers and their families and is designed to help them to understand and cope with their own diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

“It is possible to be happy and live a good life even with the concerns that come with a diagnosis. I like to think of it this way: even without cancer I would have had other things to worry about. I like to think that at the very least the quality of my worries has improved.” Edward Naessens, a contributor to Word of Mouth – Coping with and Surviving Mouth, Head and Neck Cancers.

There are more than 300 cases of cancer of the mouth (oral cavity and pharynx) reported in Ireland every year. The incidence is growing, especially among younger people; yet many people only hear about these diseases for the first time when they get their own diagnosis. The stories in the book are written by men and women, young and old and reflect the varied profile of people who have been affected by these cancers.

Speaking about the book, Dr Denise MacCarthy, Associate Professor in Restorative Dentistry at the School of Dental Science and one of the editors of Word of Mouth said, “It has been a privilege to work on this project, with the authors of the memoirs, the professionals who provide care and the inimitable Molar Rollers. I hope the information therein will be of practical use.”

Co-editor, writer and author of ‘In Your Face: One Woman’s Encounter with Cancer, Doctors, Nurses, Machines, Family and a Few Enemies’, Lia Mills said, “Think about your own mouth, all the living it does for you, how acutely sensitive it is.  Then imagine all of those things going haywire, even temporarily, during cancer treatment.  It’s easy to feel that you’ve arrived at the very end of the world, where no one else has ever been, but they have.  It’s easy to think there’s no way back, but there is.  This book is a rough guide to finding your way through the maze of treatment, written by people who know all about it.  Their contributions prove that there is life, and plenty of it, beyond even the most radical treatment.”

The publication of the book has been funded by the Molar Rollers; a group of cycling devotees from among the staff and friends of the Dublin Dental University Hospital who were motivated to raise the money following the first Mouth, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Day held in Ireland, in 2010.

Copies of the book are available for free from the Dublin Dental University Hospital website, iBooks and Amazon.