A non-healing sore on my tongue was eventually diagnosed as stage IV oral cancer. Tragically ironic for a storyteller! The radical surgery and treatment was devastating but my outcome was extraordinary.
A couple of years later, the ADA (American Dental Association) launched an awareness campaign with the message, ‘There is a painless way to know if this is serious.’ The voicemail I left on their 800 line was succinct, “You need to know my story and I want to help you.” They called back.
In 2003, for the first time, I told my very personal story in a public way, with 9K dentists in the audience at the Annual ADA Conference. My call to action motivated doctors from across the country to request a presentation for their regional dental meetings. My speaking career took off. Patient stories matter.