Beth Goldman smiles and poses with her trophy after completing her sixth marathon. “It was a real book end and punctuation mark to the end of this whole journey.” An avid runner, this marathon was her most rewarding as it was just one month after her final round of chemotherapy. “The knowledge of I’m going to do this marathon, I don’t care if I have to walk, I will finish it. It kept me trying to eat, even when I couldn’t taste anything and I felt terrible,” said Beth.
Beth was diagnosed with tongue cancer. She underwent an 11-hour surgery and months of radiation and chemotherapy.
For years, Beth says she ignored a small bump on the side of her tongue. When the bump became painful she mentioned it to her doctor. After being diagnosed with tongue cancer, her doctors not only removed part of her tongue but lymph nodes in her neck as well.
“We rebuild the tongue. If you were just to try to close this and stitch the tongue to the remaining tissue that would really limit her speech. The arm is a very, very reliable flap and it has fairly thin tissue. You don’t want a big bulky tissue in there to repair the tongue. Otherwise it would actually hurt her speech and swallowing,” said Dr. Anthony Anfuso, an ear, nose and throat surgeon on the medical staff of Lee Health.
Beth has regular speech and occupational therapy to help rebuild strength in her speech and in her arm. “I never realized how life altering this would be. It’s like running the last six miles of a marathon. You hit mile 20 and you have 6 more miles to go but you put your head down and keep going, and that’s what I did,” said Beth.
That’s what Beth continues to do. She reminds everyone to pay attention to your body and maintain your health during cancer treatment.
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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.