In 2006 at age 50, my life was a freight train; roaring forward, very fulfilling & busy. I was 50, felt like I was 30, worked like I was 20. Then, my freight-train life ran head-long into a brick wall.
The "toothache" I'd sought treatment for was stage IV cancer in my jaw. Aggressive, very poor prognosis, and treatment, if successful, would be life-changing. Disfiguring, horrible suffering during treatment, with only slim chances of survival for more than a year or two afterwards.
I've always been a cautious optimist, but there seemed to be very little to be optimistic about. Very low survival rates, horrific treatment modalities, nothing about it sounded in any way appealing. Did I really want to go through that? Was there any POINT in going through that if all that would happen is a short extention of my life, filled with even more misery? I knew next to nothing about oral cancer, and I was terrified.
I knew I had to get to know my adversary, intimately, if I was going to fight. It didn't take long before I stumbled across what would become an integral, important, engaging source of understanding, advice & enormous compassion & encourgement; the Oral Cancer Foundation.
From the first moments, I became part of the OCF "family", and they became a part of mine. Within hours, I was talking to people about my deepest fears and feelings; total strangers earlier, and now close confidants.
It's been said that the only person who TRULY understands what a cancer patient goes through is another cancer patient. Even more important, if that other cancer patient suffers(ed) from the same type of cancer.
The OCF gave me the most important part of the "survival equation", and the part that was missing; the OCF gave me HOPE. I learned and came to appreciate that even with the odds stacked very much against me, many others had travelled that same road, and come out the other side, intact and able to live life.
The year that followed was horrific. Surgery...17 hours worth...a heart attack, a coma for two weeks. Radiotherapy, chemotherapy for months. sicker than I'd ever been in my entire life. Then physiotherapy, speech therapy, scans, tests, ad nauseum. Through it all, my "family" with the OCF was there for me every step of the way. Offering suggestions, encouragement, empathy. Strategies on overcoming some of the difficulties I had. There too, when one of our "family" lost their battle. We grieved together, we celebrated together...we were, and are "family". Some of my closest friends in the world are people I've met through OCF.
The Oral Cancer Foundation is a modest group of people helping one another deal with a common enemy. Together immeasurably stronger than each person indivudually. Their good work continues, and the demands increase, year after year. This organization has participated and played a hugely significant role in improving the survival rates for Oral Cancer around the world. I can think of no more worthy a cause than this.
My husband was diagnosed 3 times, with different oral cancers, first in 2002, another a couple years later, and a cancer on his lip in 2005. They were all undifferentiated, and contained, so he never had radiation or chemo, but instead, extensive surgeries removing a few teeth, jaw shaving, tissue, and some lymph nodes (that were not cancerous). He has had good check-ups since then. I am writing because he asked me to. The Oral Cancer Foundation and its forum were a God-send, with some of the most helpful, kind people you could ever hope for. It made a world of difference to talk to people who had experience with this disease, who could offer advice and comfort at a time when it was badly needed. I wish I could give the foundation more than 5 stars, because they truly have helped more people thru probably the worst times of their lives.
The OCF is a vital connection for people who find themselves with the numbing news of having oral cancer. It is a lifeline to offer hope, advice, empathy, friends, and to answer the infinite questions, repeatedly, to those diagnosed. There have been invaluable friendships formed among people who have lived through the treatments together and have shared their experience with newcomers. There are truly some "angels" in the forum who have guided the members for years, putting in more time than a full time job, to assist folks through the process of getting to "the new normal". OCF is a Godsend.
When I was going through Oral cancer, the Oral Cancer Foundation was a big help to me. I am currently a survivor of 8 years. I know OCF will be there for me if and when I ever needed anything again.
At the age of 46, I was diagnosed with HPV related oropharyngeal cancer, and I was stage 4. As a Dental Hygiienist, I had the background to be able to research this insidious disease, which helped to abate my fears. The Oral Cancer Foundation proved to be the most credible resource for me, by providing me with the most current studies, and information. I am so grateful for all the funding they are able to contribute to relevant studies, and the raising of awareness. Moving forward, now that I am over 3 years post-treatment, I send many newly diagnosed patients to the OCF website. I am so happy to be an advocate for raising awareness about this epidemic!
After being diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2005 I started searching the internet for additional sources of information on Oral Cancer. I was fortunate to find The Oral Cancer Foundation which proved to be the most comprehensive and informative website on the internet.
Not only does this organization provide hundreds of pages of information, it also has a forum for patients and care givers to share their stories and get personal support from those that have been there.
At the time of my diagnosis I was a practicing dentist. (I am now retired) Through the OCF I have developed life-Long relationships with other survivors all over the world and I have been able to share the knowledge I have gained from the OCF with others. To this day every year I lecture to a class of senior dental hygiene students as part of their program. I share my story with them and turn them on to the OCF for information that they will be able to use to save lives.
Although I did not find the Oral Cancer Foundation until I was home recuperating from my tongue surgery, I have found it to be a way for me to expand my commitment to early detection of oral cancer. As a dentist and an oral cancer survivor, I have found myself in a very unique situation. Since joining the OCF in April of 2005, I have found a new meaning to the term "helping others". The number of people from all walks of life that spend hours of their precious time helping others get through this dreadful disease, is boundless. My OCF "family" have allowed me to meet some of the most generous people in the world. From Brian Hill, the founder, to people in my own neighborhood and people around the world, the OCF forum provides a place for us to gather and help and support survivors, as well as family and friends of oral cancer patients. Being a member of the OCF has spurred me on to be more pro-active in oral cancer awareness, than I ever was before. I have run 3 oral cancer screening events, written articles for local and national dental magazines, aimed at getting dentists to incorporate oral cancer screenings in their offices. I have been the top fund raiser for the OCF cancer walk in Harlem, NYC for the last 2 years. I will also be a speaker at a walk and fund raiser for the OCF this coming September. I try to get to the forum at least once a day looking for ways to use my background to help others. Many people, even the members, are not aware of the vastness of the OCF website. There is no other site that comes close to having the content that the OCF website has. Just looking at the home page, www.oralcancerfoundation.org, and the list of links there, will give anyone an idea of how much content is available. The Oral Cancer Foundation website truly is the only place to go for the "answers to questions, advice, support and inspiration".
The Oral Cancer Foundation is an amazing small nonprofit with a worldwide presence. Helping oral cancer patients and caregivers all over the world with up to date, correct medical info and support on the online patient support forum sets The Oral Cancer Foundation apart from other online support groups. OCF's members truly care about each other and embrace new members immediately as one of their own. Nonprofit organizations cant get better than The Oral Cancer Foundation in all areas of helping others. I would give them a 10 star rating for everything they do to bring awareness of oral cancer, helping the general public with free screenings and funding research.
The Oral Cancer Foundation helps oral cancer patients and caregivers during their darkest days. Invaluable and correct medical info and support is given to those in need. This small nonprofit makes a nationwide presence with campaigns to bring oral cancer screenings and awareness of oral cancer to the general public.
The Oral Cancer Foundation is what pulled me thru my battle with oral cancer several years ago. I dont know where I'd be today without their guidance. Oral cancer is not a widely known disease. I never heard of it before I was diagnosed. The compassionate support members give other can not be replicated. This website helps oral cancer patients and caregivers from all over the world. I wish there were more websites that modeled this great organization. Two thumbs up!!!
When I was first diagnosed with oral cancer I had no idea what it was. The Oral Cancer Foundation's members embraced me and taught me everything I needed to know along with providing me with the emotional support I needed. OCF is a small organization that provides worldwide support for oral cancer patients and caregivers. I consider OCF to be the very best nonprofit out there!!!!
The Oral Cancer Foundation is the very BEST small nonprofit organization!!! The OCF online patient support group helps patients and caregivers all over the world with up to date and correct medical info and support. This nonprofit establishment also helps fund many cutting edge research projects. For example, some are dedicated to furthering knowledge of HPV which is the fastest growing segment of newly diagnosed oral cancer patients. The Oral Cancer Foundation has created alliances with dental offices across the US to do thousands of free oral cancer screenings every April for Oral Cancer Awareness Month. This helps to find oral cancer early when its the easiest to treat.
My husband was diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2007. I literally don't know how we would have made it without the oral cancer foundation. We were lost as to how to proceed and the oral cancer foundation gave us the tools to navigate the choice of treatment. After treatment we turned to OCF for advice on nutrition and issues with swallowing and feeding. Because of radiation, my husband had to have his jaw replaced last year. The advice of OCF was instrumental in both of us surviving both physically and emotionally. I can't say enough good things about these incredible people. They deserve 50 stars as far as I'm concerned.
Mary and John McCloskey
I was diagnosed with an HPV+ oral cancer that had to metastasized to one lymph node in March 2017. The Oral Cancer Foundation provides an outstanding *moderated* board by other cancer survivors.
Using the board I:
- Selected a certified cancer center 4 miles from my house by late March 2017
- Chose surgery + radiation rather than radiation + chemo by May 2017
- Learned "best known methods" from previous patients - I did NOT need a feeding tube, I ate solid foods until my 6th week of radiation, and I did not have significant weight loss.
- I had very little skin damage compared to most patients (for example, my skin did not peel despite 30 radiation treatments.)
- Followed my speech and swallowing exercises to the letter and did not lose any range in how far I could open my mouth and had no loss of function in speaking.
- Was able to get feedback on questions as they occurred.
- Was given realistic expectations from former patients (e.g. taste loss, salivary gland function) that was glossed over by the doctors.
I highly recommend the Oral Cancer Foundation for anyone with oral cancer and their support.
The best thing about the non-profit is that they provide a moderated forum. This prevents information that is inaccurate or misleading from confusing you at a very difficult and confusing time at your life. OCF is the place I could count on to get quick and accurate answers to our questions during and after treatment.
There is absolutely no question about whether I would be here now if not for the Oral Cancer Foundation. I would not be. It is now 12 years since my first oral cancer diagnosis and not a single day goes by that I don't feel grateful to OCF for their support, the friendships made and the ongoing help that I know will instantly be there when I need it. That help may come in the form of high quality information with the latest techniques and information on procedures front and center, or it may be a shoulder to cry on in the patient and survivor forum. One never really 'gets over' oral cancer. We live with it every single day - in our speech - in our eating abilities (or inabilities) - in our relationships - and in the long term effects of some of our treatments. Not one day has ever gone by that I could say I was "over" oral cancer, and the Oral Caner Foundation has been there with me for every step of the way. My OCF name is "Pandora". I chose that because Pandora's box ended up with just one thing in it - HOPE. To me that was where I was at when I joined - HOPE. I continue to HOPE - for myself and all oral cancer warriors.
In 2004 I was diagnosed with tongue cancer. This was a disease that NO ONE had ever heard of at the time - myself included. Yes, I was a smoker, and I was always fearful of lung cancer - but Oral Cancer?? Who had ever heard of that. I felt lost. Alone. The Oral Cancer Foundation became my source of information and comfort. There I met the most amazing people who knew of what I spoke.
When I was diagnosed with a recurrence in 2007, not one person on OCF gave me the sad "puppy dog eyes" or exhibited the "oh you poor thing" which went with said puppy dog eyes. They walked with me - helped me to find factual documentation and look at some care which perhaps wasn't the norm at the time. Due to my OCF Family's suggestions, I pushed for a second course of radiation and my Radiaiton Oncologist stretched protocols at the time to offer this.
Because of this double radiation I am here today. I just had my 5 1/2 year CT post treatment for my Second bout of Oral Cancer and I am 9 1/2 years past treatment for my First oral cancer. No question I would not be here without OCF.
While my cancer was likely due to the more traditional (old school) reasons for Oral Cancer - i.e smoking and drinking alcohol, I have come to be educated and extremely concerned about the rising rates of Oral Cancer due to HPV. This type of cancer appears to hit young people hard and it breaks my heart to think that they could have likely been cured - IF they had known to seek early detection; IF they had known Oral Cancer even existed.
OCF has work to do and it diligently doing anything and everything it can to spread the word. In order to do this - and save many young lives - they need our support.
The Oral Cancer Foundation is THE BEST Non Profit I have ever heard of. No questions about that.
Thank you OCF for my Life. Thanks to you, I fully expect to see my 60th Birthday in March 2014 :)
I found OCF in 2007 when I was diagnosed with cancer. They provided much needed information and additional support that was needed.OCF goes" above and beyond" what most other cancer related non-profits do for the cause. You can sign n 24 hrs a day and find answers and support from those who have been thru the same or similar treatment. OCF is there for anyone needing advice and support regardless of income or status.
This is a model non-profit organisation which helps oral cancer patients, survivors and caregivers throughout the United States and in the wider world. It has helped me through two occurrences of oral cancer and I hold the managers and moderators in the highest esteem. They give information but also the emotional support that is necessary for us when we go through this devastating disease.
I found the Oral Cancer Foundation in 2009 after major tongue surgery and returned there this year after a recurrence, another surgery and radiotherapy. My life would be a lot harder if I didn't have the Patient Forum to call on when times get tough. Other patients and dedicated volunteers give advice and support about all manner of treatments, especially radiotherapy which can be particularly dire when directed at the head and neck.
I'm impressed by the overall philosophy and tone of the site. The Forum is beautifully moderated and newcomers are welcomed with sympathy and ready answers to their questions.
It's also heartwarming to feel a link to oral cancer patients all over the world. No one wants to join the oral cancer community but if your life takes this path, the Oral Cancer Foundation makes it so much more bearable.
I found the Oral Cancer Foundation near the end of my Husbands radiation/chemo treatment for his Base of Tongue cancer. How I wish I had found the site earlier. Such a wealth of Information .
The Patient Forum was a god send. Such supportive and helpful advice on all manner of treatment and its side effects. I have given OCF's details to the ENT department at our hospital in New Zealand. I spoke to the Head &Neck cancer Nurse specialist too and really recommended that she look at OCF's site and that she pass on the details to all new Head&Neck cancer patients. The information is accurate and gives a great overview of treatment and what to expect. I found the support of other patients and their Caregivers incredibly helpful and supportive. This fabulous group got me through a recurrence too.
When dealing with a cancer, online support and advice is what you need. I found it at the Oral Cancer Foundation .
Just a fabulous site. When we got the diagnosis of base of tongue cancer we knew absolutely nothing about this type of cancer and how it was treated. . I literally learnt everything I needed to know from this site and from its Patients Forum. Far more information and practical help than we ever got from our Oncology team. The support from other Patients and Caregivers was essential to our progress and to my peace of mind.
I simply could not have got through without the support of the Oral Cancer Foundation.
4 years later I am still getting advice and support. I recommend this support site to all.
The OCF is THE online resource for head and neck cancers. I found them during recovery after surgery and radiation, joined immediately and was instantly embraced into a caring and helpful family. There is a wealth of information there and I know they sponsor research and work with patient outreach all over the country and even abroad. But what really sets the foundation apart are the people. I urge any H&N cancer sufferers and their loved ones to make use of this amazing place.
I found out about the Oral Cancer Foundation when my son was undergoing Radiation treatment for oral cancer. As I waited for my son to get back from his treatment, a young man sitting nearby came over to me and as he left for his own Radiation treatment, he smiled as he bent over and said to me, "Go to the Oral Cancer Foundation. They can help". I think often of this young man often and bless the day he led me to this wonderful organization. I don't know what we would have done without the kind and compassionate and knowledgeable help we received from everyone at the Oral Cancer Foundation. and all its volunteers throughout my son's treatment and beyond. In those early days of my son's recovery, I was online with the OCF many times throughout the day but no matter the time of day or night, there was always someone to help with never ending compassion and practical suggestions. They helped me over and over to help my son recover and to be strong for him. Day by day, I learned how to care for him and through the experience of others who were a little ahead of where my son was in his treatment, I was encouraged and was helped to learn what to expect at each stage. The research that this organization is part of is beyond amazing in what they have been able to do. I am so very grateful to Brian Hill, the founder for creating this tremendous organization.
My son and I found the Oral Cancer Foundation almost 8 years ago when he was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Cancer. Without this organization I don't know what we would have done. We found all the latest information, plus the support and compassion from members who had direct experience with oral cancer. Over the years I've been amazed how this site continues to keep us informed about all the latest research and information on Oral Cancer as well as the technical improvements to the site which makes it even more perfect than it already was! My son is cancer-free now but does have long term issues as many patients do, so we continue to benefit and learn from all the developments and issues related to the effects of radiation treatment which he received. I am so very grateful to Brian Hill, the founder of OCF and to all the wonderful people who make this the great organization that it is.
I found the Oral Cancer Foundation’s online forum while going through treatment. The wealth of information and support that is provided is priceless. The foundation’s mission is designed to reduce suffering and save lives through prevention, education, research, advocacy, and patient support activities. Coping with oral cancer can be complex. Not only is the patient dealing with a life-threatening disease, but also with changes in physical appearance, speech, the ability to swallow and eat, smell and taste. I firmly believe in spreading awareness and getting screened because getting screened can literally be the difference between life and death. I don't know what I would have done without OCF.
Over the years OCF has stayed at the head of the pack with new information and a most helpful forum. I have gained a lot of knowledge about head and neck cancers and have made a number of friends. It's so nice to know that many others care when I am in a time of need.
Two years ago when my husband was diagnosed with base of tongue cancer, I was able to get all of the information I needed from the OCF website. I was able to ask doctors pertinent questions and raise questions about issues that the doctors had not thought to inform me about. Time and time again, the treating oncologists congratulated my husband on having a wife who kept on the "straight and narrow," -- something I could only do with the knowledge I got from OCF. My husband's cancer has since metastasized, it has been extremely helpful to me to know that I only have to reach out and the support is there for me on OCF.
The Oral Cancer Foundation has helped me and my family with my fathers tongue cancer. The online message board has been a huge help in answering our questions and helping us to get my father thru some very dark times. I cant thank the dedicated volunteers enough for all the help they have given us this year. Other charities should be more like The Oral Cancer Foundation. They are the best of the best!!!