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Addingham man returns after lifesaving surgery
A fortnight after Robin Priestley visited his doctor with a lump in his mouth, which he thought would be treated with simple medication, he was undergoing a 15-hour lifesaving operation.
Mr Priestley, who has just returned to his job as a customer adviser at NatWest in Skipton, is recovering from treatment to remove a cancerous tumour from his mouth last December, which has left him having to learn to speak again.
He has been back in the office welcoming representatives of Macmillan Cancer Support, who had set up a fundraising buffet in the bank’s foyer to celebrate the charity’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning.
The 53-year-old said he discovered the lump last November and was on the operating table within about two weeks.
“When I visited the consultant surgeon he said to me the one thing you don’t want to hear which was, ‘I don’t like the look of that’. A biopsy then confirmed it was cancer.
“The result was major surgery at Bradford Royal Infirmary, the best place I could have been. The medical staff were very special and dedicated people – I was very lucky.
“The surgery took 15 hours from 9.30am to midnight. I was glad I didn’t know how long it would last – the news could have killed me on the spot.”
Mr Priestley, of Addingham, who is on a phased return to work, said: “Because I’ve lost part of my tongue, I’m having to be careful to enunciate my words otherwise I would sound like I’m mumbling. It’s an effort, but time will make it better.”
Professor Jim McCaul, consultant maxillofacial head and neck surgeon at BRI, said: “We’re delighted that Robin’s recovery is continuing and that he is now using his experience positively to raise awareness of this condition,”
“Head and mouth cancer is now the sixth most common type of cancer in Europe and affects mainly men over the age of 40 but is on the increase among younger men and women too.
“If you pick up the cancer early, there is a an 80 to 90 per cent cure rate – so being aware of the signs can be a real lifesaver.”
Symptoms of head and neck cancer can include sore tongue, sore throat, mouth ulcers, difficulty swallowing, persistent hoarseness, white or red patches, lumps in the mouth or neck and a blocked nose on one side.