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I was stunned when my sore throat and years of tonsillitis turned out to be hidden killer

FOR years, Lisa Goody had experienced issues with her throat and would often have tonsillitis.

The now 51-year-old said she first noticed her tonsil was ‘enlarged’ around 15-years-ago when looking at her son’s tonsils – which prompted her to check hers.

Lisa Goody said she had always issues with her tonsils growing up
But her symptoms continued and she started to display white spots at the back of her throat

About 12 months ago she went to her GP after she started to experience trouble with her throat.

Lisa, who lives in Stockport, Manchester, said there was a white patch on her tonsil.

She’d had tonsil stones and tonsillitis in the past, so thought they once again may have been the cause.

But Lisa was shocked when the cause of her sore throat actually turned out to be tonsil cancer, which is a cancer of the mouth.

It was recently found that cases of mouth cancer have hit record high in the UK.

Rates of the illness have doubled in the last generation, with 8,864 cases being diagnosed last year.

Data from the Oral Health Foundation shows that this is an increase of 34 per cent compared to ten years ago.

Now the mum-of-three is trying to raise awareness when it comes to checking your mouth on a regular basis.

Lisa said prior to her diagnosis in December 2020, she had contacted her GP and had phone and video consultations before being prescribed antibiotics, which didn’t work.

The third time she contacted the GP she saw them face to face and had her mouth, throat and neck examined, she was then urgently referred to a specialist.

She was eventually diagnosed which cancer on December 22 2020.

Lisa said: “When I saw the GP in person he said ‘so, what about your lymph nodes?’

“He felt them and said ‘it’s massive’, it was massive, which you’re just thinking ‘oh, it’s just because I have a sore throat’.

“I could tell with the questions that the consultant was asking that there was something [wrong].

“I said ‘is it cancer?’ and he said ‘yes’. So he knew straight away.

“I would like to say I am quite an optimistic person, although no one wants to hear those words.”

Lisa said the hardest thing she had to do was tell her family.

“I think the person with it just thinks, ‘ok, let’s get on with this now’.

“Don’t get me wrong – you’re devastated, but you’re like ‘can it be treated? What can we do”, she said.

Lisa said the lump in the lymph node on her neck was around six centimetres.

The mum added that her cancer was caused by Human papillomavirus (HPV) –  a very common group of viruses which don’t cause problems in most people, but some types can cause genital warts or cancer.

She started her treatment on the February 8 2021, the day before her 50th birthday.

She had 33 lots of radiotherapy and two lots of chemotherapy, which she finished that March.

The diagnosis has had a huge impact on her life, and due to her constant dry mouth, she always has to carry a drink and moisture tablets.

It’s also affected what food she has as she can only eat those that have a sauce and aren’t flavoured or heavily seasoned – like warm Weetabix, porridge and soups.


Since her diagnosis, Lisa’s lost around three stone – so she’ll drink high calorie drinks to increase her calorie intake.

Lisa said: “One of the really awful known side effects of the treatment is that you don’t have any saliva glands and constantly have a dry mouth.

“Having a dry mouth all the time is really awful. It affects your speech, ability to eat, talk, I can’t lick an envelope.

“It’s really daft but things like that that you don’t even think about, are impossible.”

Lisa said this includes going out to restaurants, as she said her food now has to be like ‘slop on a plate’.

“I ordered broccoli in a restaurant but it was al dente and because I was hungry I swallowed it but I couldn’t breathe so my husband had to do the heimlich maneuver on me because it was lodged in my throat.

“So things like that mean my family are scared if I’m not with them and going anywhere to potentially have something to eat.”

The customer support assistant can no longer breathe through her nose and is currently waiting for an operation to rectify this.

A year after finishing her life-changing treatment, Lisa is hoping to raise awareness of the symptoms of head and neck cancer.

Lisa said: “Check your mouth – it’s a cancer that people don’t seem to know about and it takes two minutes to check your mouth, throat and neck for any changes.

“People at the Mouth Cancer Foundation are amazing.

“We have a support group every week and we are trying to share as much information as we can about checking your mouth.

“And if there’s any sore areas or those that look different go and see your GP and dentist, and if they don’t think it’s anything but you’re still not happy, ask for a referral – don’t be put off.”

The treatment had to have also burnt Lisa’s skin
Now the mum-of-three is urging other people to be on the lookout for signs of mouth cancer

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