Maria Filosa

Maria Filosa
“I am healthy, healed and whole.” This is the mantra of Maria Filosa, a survivor of Squamous cell carcinoma, which in her case, was tongue cancer.
 
Maria was diagnosed in January 2007 with this particular type of cancer, which is normally associated with men 65 years of age and older who are heavy smokers and drinkers. Maria was only 40, never smoked or drank, and had no family history of cancer. The surprise was overwhelming!
 
Maria recalls, “I was shocked and could not bring myself to talk to my family and friends because I would burst into tears upon the mention of my diagnosis. My husband had to be the bearer of bad news. Basically, I was withdrawn that first week. Soon after I collected as much information as possible about my cancer and what was to come in terms of treatment. I decided that I was going to beat this.”
 
The treatment process at The Princess Margaret began quickly; completing 2 rounds of chemotherapy followed by 7 weeks of radiation treatment. It was in June 2007 that Maria experienced a life-changing surgery. “My tumor was removed, which involved the removal of 70% of my tongue and the removal of some lymph nodes. My tongue was then reconstructed using tissue from my left thigh. That part of my tongue is not functional,” she explained eloquently.
 
When asked about her experience and care at The Princess Margaret, Maria spoke highly and from the heart. “I had fabulous doctors and a wonderful Nurse Case Manger, Antoinette Dias. I cannot say enough about the quality of care I received at The Princess Margaret, not just physical but emotional care as well. Being told that 70% of your tongue will be removed is not an easy message to deliver and certainly devastating to receive. But my surgeons were so compassionate and took so much time with me until I was ready to make a decision to proceed. Everyone I came into contact with was so helpful and empathetic, not only to me but to my husband, family and friends who accompanied me through my treatments and recovery. The whole process of assessing the patient, preparing and delivering treatment, and providing them with knowledge, information and extensive support is efficient, organized and well thought out.”
 
A major part of Maria’s long healing process was through programs and other available resources provided by The Princess Margaret, including Psycho/Social, Nutrition and Speech Pathology.
 
“The support I received and my personal experience inspired me to become a volunteer in August 2008 through the Healing Beyond the Body program. I now support patients just like me at the Wharton Head and Neck clinic. It is comforting to them, and me, to be able to share stories with someone experiencing a similar cancer and recovery.”
 

Since her life changing surgery in June 2007, Maria has been cancer free. However, she still is under the care of her primary surgeon, Dr. Goldstein, who monitors her progress regularly.
Reviewed: October 2013