Jill was always on top of everything.
She was very proactive with her health. She never missed a doctor's appointment or dentist appointment. She was very in tune with her body, which is why when what she thought to be a stubborn canker sore on her tongue wouldn't go away, she sought the opinion of her dentist. It looked like a typical spot rubbed by a jagged tooth so they filed the tooth down smooth and she went on. After several months, the spot continued to get larger and more painful. She went back again and was referred to an oral surgeon. At this appointment, he immediately knew the spot was cancer.
The biopsy confirmed her worst nightmare. It was cancer, that had been let go for close to a year when it was all said and done. Within weeks, she underwent a life changing surgery to remove all but 1/4 of her tongue. Because it went undiagnosed for so long, it had spread into her tongue and nodes, and the surgery was way more invasive. She spent 4 weeks in the hospital recovering and then went home to fight the rest of the battle. Chemo, radiation, etc. It was after all considered a "curable cancer" at this point.
And she did bounce back. Jill was back to running, boot camp, and all of her favorite things in a relatively short amount of time. She was learning to speak better and better with each day.
In a routine scan in October, just months later, they found a suspicious spot in her lung. The biopsy showed that the cancer had spread. It was the same cancer....it had just metastasized into her lung. Unfortunately, at this point (stage 4), the cancer becomes treatable, but not curable. She was told it would eventually take her life. She made it 9 more months. 9 painful, excruciating months.
She was only 37 when she passed, leaving her 3 young children to figure out this life without their mother.
This didn't have to happen to Jill. Had it been caught earlier, perhaps through an oral cancer screening, I am confident she would still be with us. As stated earlier, Jill loved to run and the goal of this run is to honor her but most importantly, to bring awareness to oral cancer. While some think this is a rare cancer, mouth cancers will be newly diagnosed in about 132 new individuals each day in the US alone, and a person dies from oral cancer every hour of every day (source: oralcancer.org). This rate goes up when you figure in the subcategory of laryngeal throat cancer.
The Believe Awareness run will have 4 machines present that can detect oral cancer and will provide free screenings to those that register. We hope you will be apart of an amazing cause and come out for your screening! Make sure you register today and we look forward to sharing this journey with you.
Believe 5K Details:
Date: Saturday, April 9, 2016
Times: 9:00 Fun Run & 10:00 5K
Sign Up HERE