Oral Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week: Education and Healing

Oral Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week  Education and Healing


April 9th – 15th, 2018, is #OHANCAW #OralHeadandNeckCancerAwarenessWeek As a 4-time Oral Cancer Thriver, I went live via video every day this week to share various aspects of this cancer. Below is an overview of each day and a link to each video for more detailed insights.


Oral cancer is unique in that all of our senses can be impacted. We need our mouths to eat and drink. We need our mouths to speak. We need our ears to hear. We need our eyes to see. We need our nose to smell.  Oral cancer implications depend on where in the head and neck area the cancer is.

Day 1 – Statistics for Oral Head and Neck Cancer signs and symptoms and when to get to the doctor.

Daily Dose of Hope:

Main symptoms of oral cancer include:

  1. A sore throat that doesn’t have other cold symptoms and doesn’t go away.
  2. Mouth pain not related to oral hygiene.
  3. Trouble swallowing.
  4. Sinus pain that won’t go away.
  5. Face swelling, pain and/or inflammation.
  6. White or red patches inside the mouth.

Here’s the link to the day 1 video for 7 more tips


Day 2 – Side effects of Oral Head and Neck Cancer during treatment, causes of oral cancer, and how I healed 4 times through practical means.

Daily Dose of Hope:

8 biggest causes of oral cancer:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Tobacco
  3. HPV
  4. Foods, including salt, sugar and processed foods
  5. Poor oral hygiene
  6. Exposure to dangerous airborne substances found around constructions, ceramics, textiles, and metals.
  7. Genetics

Side effects of radiation include and aren’t limited to: 

  1. Fatigue
  2. Dry mouth
  3. Skin redness and irritation
  4. Nausea
  5. Pain
  6. Hoarseness
  7. Loss of taste
  8. Loss of smell
  9. Tooth loss and bone loss
  10. Inability to eat
  11. Hypothyroidism
  12. Sensitivity to spice

Side effects of chemotherapy include: 

  1. Fatigue and body weakness
  2. Nausea
  3. Vomiting
  4. Hair loss
  5. Dizziness
  6. Neuropathy
  7. Kidney failure
  8. Restless leg syndrome
  9. Heart palpitations
  10. Chemo brain/brain fog
  11. Increased risk of infections
  12. Changes in body temperature
  13. Insomnia
  14. Changes in skin color
  15. Anemia
  16. Weight loss

Here’s the link to the day 2 video for 10 Ways I outsmarted Cancer:


Day 3 –  How I healed Oral Head and Neck Cancer 4 times through mindset, spiritual means, alternative healing, natural medicine, and finding my voice.

Daily Dose of Hope:

Some of the things I covered in this video include:

  1. The power of prayer
  2. Meditation
  3. Visualizations and a real example of how I used this
  4. Tapping (when I had the strength)
  5. My journey to self-love
  6. Essential oils and how they were KEY to my healing and helping with symptoms. My go-to oils included:  Frankincense, Myrrh, Peppermint, Lavender, and Turmeric (Curcumin). There have been studies that Turmeric has a special ingredient that specifically helps kill oral cancer cells. HERE’S one of many articles on the subject.

Quality matters when it comes to essential oils. Please please do NOT get essential oils at the grocery store. I’ve used most brands of oils over the decades and find doTERRA to be one of the highest quality oils on the market. Do your own research and find the oils that are best for you and your health.

Here’s the link to the day 3 video where I talk in more detail about how I helped heal myself:


Day 4 – What NOT to say to someone with cancer

Daily Dose of Hope:

Here are some of the things to avoid saying to someone with cancer:

  1. I know how you feel…
  2. My (insert name) had your kind of cancer and they are totally fine now. NO comparison stories.
  3. Just think good thoughts and you’ll be fine.
  4. Just be grateful you don’t have (insert ‘worse’ thing here)
  5. I know exactly what you should do.
  6. What caused your cancer?
  7. I’m sure you’ll be just fine.
  8. You don’t look sick.
  9. You’re so strong.
  10. If there is anything I can do, just let me know.


For a complete list of what TO say, what NOT to say and an overview of the physical and emotional things someone with cancer feels, grab my free Insider’s Guide here:


Here’s the link to the day 4 video where I share more tips; including examples of what TO say


Day 5 – 5 Biggest Ways Family Caregivers Can Help Cancer Patients

Daily Dose of Hope:

There are certainly more than 5 ways to help those going through cancer and these are my top 5:

  1. Meet them where they are at.
  2. Honor their decisions.
  3. Honor your OWN self-care needs.
  4. Exercise patience and compassion.
  5. Be a strong advocate.


Here’s the link to the day 5 video where I address these 5 areas in greater detail


Day 6 – 2+ years post Oral Head and Neck Cancer treatment side effects

Daily Dose of Hope:

Aside from the physical scars, here’s a list of the side effects I STILL EXPERIENCE after almost 3 years post treatment:

Brain fog
Short-term memory loss and thinking of words I know in my head but can’t speak.
Kidney failure (I reversed this from stage 4 to early stage 3 – YAY)
Restless leg
Tooth loss – Loose teeth
Bone loss – periodontal issues
Oral care – mouth sensitivity
Sensitivity to spice
Smell changes
Taste changes
Spitting some foods out because of the teeth issues and gaps between my teeth
Difficulty eating hard foods
Nausea with certain foods
I drink with a straw
Mouth muscle loss – causing dribbles down the shirt if I don’t drink with a straw
Dizziness when the body gets hot
Red face/neck
Wrinkles around my mouth from the top lip down
Hearing loss

Here’s the link to the day 6 video where I discuss these areas in more detail:


Check out these articles:


  1. Everyone can use more hope and inspiration! For your free Daily Dose of Hope, click here:

2. For your free Insider’s Guide of what to say (and what NOT to say) to someone with cancer, go here:

3. For more information about essential oils, check out this website:

4. Check out my Etsy store HERE for caregiving, stress and gratitude products!

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Tandy Elisala

Family Caregiver Coach, Cancer Empowerment Advocate and Chief Inspiration Officer at Center for Inspiring Greatness | Empowered Family Caregiver
Tandy Elisala is passionate about helping family caregivers go from being overwhelmed and stressed to empowered and calm. Tandy went through cancer four times and learned how to heal using conventional, complementary, and alternative therapy. Tandy left her corporate career to take care of both parents simultaneously while raising three kids as a single mom. She took care of both parents for 2 1/2 years until their respective deaths. Tandy now teaches what she learned on her journey. Tandy is a family caregiver coach, a multiple best-selling author, inspirational speaker and mom to three adult kids, one angel dog and one diva cat.

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8 replies
  1. Natalia John
    Natalia John says:

    No doubt it is a really informative blog , Could you please tell me what are those serious symptoms that you must decide to go to a doctor without any delay. These are so many symptoms but what about those who are facing maybe 2 or 3 of them, do they also need to go to a doctor??

    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      Natalia, thanks for your comments. I would say if you have ANY symptoms such as tooth, jaw, or mouth pain, white, pink or red patches that don’t go away, bleeding, or any abnormalities, I recommend going to a doctor. You only need ONE symptom for concern.

    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      I’m SO glad this post was helpful for you, Carolyn. It’s important to keep a close eye on possible symptoms of head and neck cancer. I appreciate your comments.

    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      Thanks for your feedback. Yes, this article you shared include great tips for back exercises; which helps overall wellness.


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