Archive for February, 2014

Oral Cancer – A Patients Perspective

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

By Eva Grayzel

Eva Grayzel, a professional interactive performance artist, was diagnosed with late-stage oral cancer at age 33 and told she had a 15 percent chance of survival. A non-smoker, she was bounced among dental professionals while the ulcer on her tongue grew more prominent and painful. “It was two years and nine months from my first appointment with a dental professional until the day I was finally diagnosed with stage IV squamous cell carcinoma of the lateral tongue. During that time, no one EVER mentioned the words ‘oral cancer’ as a possible cause. Finally, I made an appointment with Dr. Mark Urken, the chief of head and neck surgery at Beth Israel Medical Center. I took the bus into Manhattan that fateful day of April 1, 1998 not having the slightest idea that what was on my tongue was remotely serious, and received the cruelest April Fool’s joke of my life.”


Eva endured a partial tongue reconstruction, a modified radical neck dissection and a maximum dose of radiation therapy. Through an extraordinarily successful treatment plan, Eva not only survived but also regained her ability to speak clearly. With a second chance at life, Eva couldn’t let the same thing happen to someone else. A champion for early detection, Eva founded Six-Step Screening™, an oral cancer awareness campaign for dental professionals and the general public. For her initiative, she was recognized by the American Academy of Oral Medicine and awarded honorary membership.


After speaking at the 2003 ADA Annual session, Eva realized the impact she could have on saving lives by sharing her personal story. The audience doesn’t just hear her story, they ‘experience’ it, as they travel the journey with Eva from a delayed diagnosis of late-stage oral cancer, through the surgery and treatment. When dental professionals hear Eva’s presentation they say, “I never want what happened to Eva to happen to any of my patients.” Because of the personal nature of her story, and the fact that someone such as themselves could have prevented it, motivates them to change how they practice. In contrast to the clinical perspective at educational conferences, Eva humanizes oral cancer, inspiring the audience both professionally and personally. “I share my personal story hoping it will inspire dental professionals to perform oral cancer screenings on all their patients, as well as demand them for themselves and for those they love. Together, we can save lives. It’s more than my mission to educate. It’s my tribute to all those that came before me and my obligation to those that will follow. By publicly sharing my personal journey to help others, I’m gaining back all the years and more of life that oral cancer took from me.”


GrayzelMs. Grayzel a nationally recognized Master Storyteller was diagnosed at age 33 with stage IV oral cancer and given a 15% chance of survival. After regaining her deep vibrant voice, Ms. Grayzel applied her stage skills to communicate the depth of her experience in a unique and powerful way. A champion for early detection, Eva founded the Six-Step Screening™ oral cancer awareness campaign for which she was recognized by the American Academy of Oral Medicine. Ms. Grayzel is the author of two children’s books, ‘Mr. C Plays Hide & Seek’ and ‘Mr. C the Globetrotter,’ in the Talk4Hope Family Book Series.