Tony had been smoking for 35 years when he was diagnosed with a tumour in his lower jaw. The surgeon told him he needed to operate immediately to save his jaw bone.

“He asked me if I was a smoker, I said yes but I had quit. He asked me when, and I said 5 minutes ago. The surgeon said that’s good because he couldn’t operate if I was still smoking because the tissue he was going to stretch from my neck to my jaw wouldn’t heal properly if I still smoked.”

The surgeon successfully removed the tumour, along with a large portion of Tony’s cheek including his parotid, sublingual and submandibular glands and many lymph nodes. After the operation, Tony needed radiation therapy and requires ongoing medication due to the after-effects of the treatment.

Image on the left shows a large hole in Tony's lower cheek and the tissue that was removed sits on gauze on his chest. Image on the right shows the large, u-shaped stitching needed to cover the hole with skin.
Image on the left shows a large hole in Tony's lower cheek and the tissue that was removed. Image on the right shows the large amount of stitching needed to cover the hole with skin.

These days he needs to deconstruct large meals before eating them because his mouth doesn’t open wide enough, and dry foods like potato chips are off the menu. But, thankfully, he has been in remission for 12 months.

Image of Tony with his scar healing well.

Tony has been a non-smoker for 3 years now, and whenever he finds himself facing an old trigger to smoke, he’s reminded of all he’s been through and thinks, ‘never again’. He wanted to share his story to remind people of the many dangers of smoking.

“Smoking gets in more ways than one. A lot of people think of lung cancer, but my breathing is fine. The toxins spread through your cells and can attack anywhere.”

Thank you for generously sharing this story with us, Tony.




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