April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month.
A Bell County woman recovering from Oral Cancer wants to spread her message to see your doctor with any concerns. Doctors and survivors alike are urging people to get checked out and ask questions.
Heather Egbert had surgery to remove cancer from under her tongue just days ago. Now, during Oral Cancer Awareness Month, her mission is to minimize who has to go through what she has since February.
"I had been living with something that looked like an ulcer under my tongue about the size of a pea for quite some time, a couple years," Egbert said.
On Saturday, she's planning to celebrate her youngest daughter's second birthday at her home in Salado. But less than two months ago, on February 25th, she received a shock from her doctor after she had quit smoking.
"I was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma," Egbert said.
Her husband, Trevor Egbert, added, "I was at work when she called me. She was crying on the phone and instantly, I started doing the same."
Doctors are urging people to get checked.
Dr. Ryan Raju at Baylor, Scott & White in Temple said oral cancer has become the 10th most common form. So, if something is off, he says to talk to your doctor.
"If you have something that's there and it's not going away, get a biopsy," Raju said.
It's a sentiment both Egbert and her husband can share.
"If you have anything in your mouth that doesn't feel right, they say if it doesn't get better in three weeks, go and have it checked," Heather said.
Trevor added, "I would have gotten second opinions."
A second opinion from doctors like Raju, so more people can spend more birthdays with their kids like the Egberts will this weekend.
One of the reasons oral cancer is tricky is it's so broad. It encompasses the tongue, jaw, esophagus and everything in between.
Raju suggests asking for a biopsy earlier if you have any concerns when you visit your doctor.
For Egbert, she had surgery to remove the cancer on Tuesday. She said Dr. Raju told her they're confident all the cancer has been removed.