CAT GOT YOUR TONGUE? NO, CANCER DID! Lane Johnson is 37 years old, is the wife of a fire fighter and the mother of four young children ranging in age from 3 to 12. Approximately 5 years ago, she noticed an annoying sore that caused her discomfort on the side of her tongue and sought medical attention. She was told by an oral surgeon it may be a yeast infection and was given medicine to treat it with instructions to follow up in a week. Unfortunately, the medication did not take the sore away. Since her tongue wasn’t hurting quiet as bad the doctor didn’t feel there was much to worry about. Little did she know that this sore would change her life drastically five years later. At the time, Lane was dealing with a lot as her father had just passed away from a difficult battle of lung cancer. Three years later, the sore was still there. Lane’s dentist expressed concern and sent her to see the oral surgeon again. She chose to see the same oral surgeon as the first time due to the fact he had previously treated her and had knowledge of her situation. He notated no change on her tongue from three years prior, but unfortunately it had grown in size and turned into a white patch over the years. He informed Lane, “if it were cancer, you would be dead by now” and assured her she had nothing to worry about. She felt as if this was just some odd patch on her tongue she would just have deal with. A biopsy was not performed as the oral surgeon did not believe it was necessary. Finally, after 5 years of having a problem on the side of her tongue, she went to see an ENT who referred her to Stanford and the oral surgeon there sent her to UCSF as it was a better facility for pathology. The oral surgeon at UCSF did not like the way her tongue looked and did a biopsy on her that same day. Sadly, the biopsy results reveled that Lane had squamous cell carcinoma on her tongue aka tongue cancer and more than likely had it when she sought treatment from the oral surgeon years prior. I have never been in Lane’s shoes but I’m sure it’s a pretty frightening position to be in, knowing you have cancer and have had it for some time. Struck down with an illness with uncertain cures only to face a future of which nobody knows must feel like being stuck in your worst nightmare. Especially when you have four small children who depend on you. The question running through everyone’s mind is “how did this happen?” as Lane has never been a smoker nor a drinker and is a very healthy individual. On May 3, 2018, Lane had surgery on her tongue removing part of the right side. The pathology results showed the cancer was over 3mm deep; therefore, the doctor choose to perform a dissection of her neck two weeks later. While Lane was undergoing surgery, her father-in- law succumbed to his brave fight of lung cancer. The neck dissection revealed the cancer had spread to her lymph node lower on her neck which was removed. As a result, on June 18, 2018, Lane begin radiation treatment for 6 weeks, 5 days per week to try to make sure they caught any microscopic cells the surgeries may have missed. It is in these times where the strength of family and friends are critical to help provide much needed support. Unfortunately Lane found out on March 20, 2019, almost a year later to the month, the cancer is back in her neck. She had another surgery on her neck to remove this tumor on April 8, 2019, but unfortunately there was too much nerve invasion so she will have to undergo treatment again. She has a long hellish road ahead of her with her next round of treatment but she’s strong and she’s not in this alone. Regrettably, Lane is forced to live with this awful disease day in, day out. Some days cancer has the upper hand, other days she does. Even after she "conquers" this horrible disease and I believe she is cowgirl strong to do just that, it will remain with her for the rest of her life as she has to live with the constant anxiety that her cancer may return. Lane has an amazing ability to entwine positive thoughts despite her hardships. This is a true testimony to her character and strength as she faces the realities of her cancer journey. There is no dollar amount that can be associated with the cost of what is paid, when it comes to the diagnosis of CANCER. It is a diagnosis that is financially draining, especially when you’re unable to work due to being ill. It was suggested by Lane’s head and neck surgeon that she receive all of her treatment this time around from doctors at UCSF. Being that Lane doesn’t live anywhere near that facility, it is probably going to be very costly. This is where WE: Lane’s friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and community can step in to help easy her burdens so she can focus on getting better. I hope that through all these words you have seen the pain she has experience but also the determination in one person to live. Lane is a beautiful and amazing person who deserves our support.