A GRANDFATHER struck down by mouth cancer has had his jaw reconstructed - using bone taken from his shin.
Dave Rogers, aged 62, discovered he had cancer following a routine annual check-up at the dentist. He has since had to learn to walk and talk again but has made a remarkable recovery from his operation.
Dave first realised something was wrong when his dentist told him he needed a root canal - and sent him to Sheffield’s Charles Clifford dental hospital. But doctors there discovered Dave had an aggressive form of mouth cancer - central epidermoid carcinoma.
Dave said: “I only went in to the dentist for an annual check-up. I wasn’t expecting anything - I felt fit and healthy. It was a complete shock.”
Dave, a keen mountaineer, skier and golfer from Adwick, Doncaster, was rushed into surgery.
He had an op to remove the tumour at the Thornbury Hospital in Sheffield - and was then referred to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital’s oral and maxillofacial team. He went through two more operations, totalling 36 hours, where surgeons cut away his jaw and replaced it with bone and skin from his shin.
He said: “Everyone, especially my family and the hospital team at the Hallamshire, were fantastic. At the hospital they made you feel you were part of their inclusive team and you were fighting this together.”
After his operation Dave - who works as a senior manager for phone company O2 - had to be taught how to walk and speak all over again.
He said: “It’s been hard as I’ve had to relearn to do some of the things I took for granted before the operation.
“I’ve had to learn to walk properly again as the operation removed bone from one of my legs.
“I even copied my two-year-old grandson Alfie trying to walk for the first time! I’ve also had to learn to speak and breathe properly again.”
Since his operation Dave has noticed some strange changes.
“I asked the team why I kept getting hairs growing in my mouth!
“They reminded me that they’d reconstructed my jaw using bone and skin from my leg. I have hairy legs - so I now have to have my mouth waxed regularly!”
Speaking out for Mouth Cancer Awareness month, he added: “I can’t emphasise enough the importance of getting checked out. If you’re over 45, have a regular X-ray of your jaw when you have an annual dental check, even if you don’t think there’s anything wrong.”