Kumud Verma was an exceptionally active lady. Even at an age of 67 yrs, she would end up doing the entire house hold work and would single handedly take care of her grandchildren. Regarded as the most responsible and physically fit, she ensured that nothing stops her. “It is best to remain active. It is a saying in our village that the minute you are bed ridden, you become a burden for your family, “exclaims Kumud.
But all her beliefs and everyday practices were to change when a few months back she started to complain of severe pain in her mouth and tongue region. She thought it might be because of the spicy food or due to an ulcer. She consulted a local dentist, but the prescribed medicines gave her no relief. For 6 months she battled the pain. “It was as if my tongue had swollen. I couldn’t eat or chew anything. I was on a liquid diet and ended up losing a lot of weight.” Concerned about the situation of his mother, Hemant, Kumud’s son who works in Patna, decided to get her from Siwan and decided to consult a specialist at Paras HMRI Hospital, Patna.
“Even after consulting all the doctors near our village, my mother could not get relief. I guessed that it is more than just an ulcer or tooth pain,” shares Hemant.
At Paras Patna, Dr Rajeev Sharan, Sr Consultant Surgical Oncology & Chief of Head & Neck Oncology, recommended a biopsy of the tongue growth. The results highlighted a squamous cell carcinoma on examination. According to Dr Rajeev Sharan, “Kumud is an exceptional case. With no history of tobacco chewing, smoking or any family history of oral cancer, Kumud developed a large carcinoma on her tongue. The size of the tumor was 8 cm and she was just able to close her mouth due to large size of the tumor. The tumor involved anterior 2/3rd of the tongue. Post discussion with the tumor board of the hospital, it was decided that more than the 2/3rd of the tongue which has the tumor would be removed with wide margin with bilateral neck dissection and reconstruction would be done at the same time.”Reconstruction is the key to post op rehabilitation. Modern technique of free flap reconstructionhas revolutionised the management of oral cancer and has improved quality of life remarkedly, as these patients can speak and take oral diet postop.
When Kumud was explained her condition, the risks associated with the same and the reconstruction that would follow, she was worried. “I kept on asking God, why he has punished me. Also I kept on blaming myself for avoiding a specialist’s consultation. Had I come to Patna earlier, the situation could have been better.” Apprehensive and scared Kumud and her family consented for the recommended procedures.
During the operation, more than 2/3rd of the tongue was removed and reconstruction of the same was done with radial forearm free flap. Her results were promising and she resumed eating food orally 2 weeks post surgery. Today Kumud’s days have changed. “ I am no longer in pain and discomfort. Moreover I can speak again and take orally. I consider my condition a minor bump in my life and I also consider it as a lesson – don’t take yourself or your health for granted.”
It has been more than 4 month post surgery and today she is pain free and back to her usual self – the active & responsible Kumud!