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Janice Atkinson initially thought the pea-sized swelling that developed on the left side of her neck last summer was no more than a swollen gland — a sign of an impending cold or sore throat.
But, unusually for a swollen gland, it wasn’t sore and, two weeks after it appeared, it was getting bigger.
Hmmm - Janice - MEP - South - East
‘That’s what made me think, “Hmmm, perhaps I should get this checked out,” ’ says Janice, an independent MEP for South East England.
She saw a doctor at the European Parliament who urged her to have tests quickly. Back in the UK she saw a private ear, nose and throat specialist, who performed a needle biopsy of the lump, when a needle is used to withdraw some cells.
Days - Friday - Afternoon - June - Year
A few days later, on a sunny Friday afternoon in June last year, he called a horrified Janice and told her the initial results pointed to tonsil cancer.
‘For the next two hours I was stunned. I had always been so healthy — and, yes, I did cry,’ says Janice, 56, a mother of two sons, aged 23 and 27, who is married to Simon, 51, a banker.
Diagnosis - Bout - Stones - Collects - Crevices
It might seem a surprising diagnosis given that, in 2012, following a bout of tonsil stones — where debris collects in the crevices in the tonsils and calcifies — she’d had her tonsils removed.
But while having your tonsils out reduces the risk of cancer — by about 85 per cent — tumours can develop in the remaining tonsil roots.
Week - Tests - Biopsy - News - Cancer
The following week, after further tests, including a biopsy, there was more bad news: the cancer had spread. The swelling in her neck was where the cancer had spread to a lymph gland, and a dot-sized sore on her tongue, which Janice put down to a chipped tooth for months, was a cancerous lesion.
There was another patch of...
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