One day, Alanna thought she had a painful mouth ulcer. The next, she was facing the shocking news it was cancer. This young healthy mum was a fitness instructor with no known risk factors. Yet suddenly, she was preparing for major surgery to remove cancerous lesions from her mouth, tongue and neck.
She remembered, “I had no time to process anything. I was still breastfeeding my youngest son, and only had three days to wean him before I went to hospital.”
Alanna feels lucky The Wesley Hospital could fit her lifesaving surgery in so quickly. But that didn’t make it any less terrifying when she woke up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) afterwards.
A third of Alanna’s tongue was gone, she had staples in her neck, and one hand was in a cast where her surgeons had to take a skin graft from her wrist for her tongue. Her worried husband, Brendan, was by her bedside. But she couldn’t speak to him because of the tracheotomy – or breathing tube – in her windpipe.