William Buehler: Rebuilding After Carcinoma Diagnosis

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"With Dr. Ridge’s expertise in oral cancer surgery - I could not have been in better hands."

— William Buehler, Squamous Cell Carcinoma Survivor

I was diagnosed with T4 squamous cell carcinoma in my mouth, tongue, and jawbone during the winter of 2006. I had been a smoker until the day I got the diagnosis, but I still never thought I’d face cancer, and that it could be so extensive. I was not sure there was any treatment available for me, and I was aware that I could die.

My Team

Prior to the diagnosis, I had been having pain in my mouth for quite some time, but my dentist could not give me a definitive diagnosis. I finally made an appointment with a different dentist, who looked at my X-rays. By that time, most of my lower jaw had disintegrated, and the dentist was clearly concerned.

I took my X-ray films to Dr. John A. Ridge, an oncologic surgeon at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Dr. Ridge made the diagnosis and recommended a surgical procedure that would include reconstruction of my jaw. so a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Fox Chase also joined my treatment team.

I had researched these guys and knew I had the best surgeons helping me. During the 12-hour procedure, Dr. Ridge removed the cancerous tissue in and around my mouth, and the plastic and reconstruction surgeon removed bone and skin from my leg to rebuild my mouth, jaw, and tongue. They really did wonders.


My recovery period was long. During my rehabilitation I learned to speak and eat again, and I underwent radiation therapy for 34 days and three rounds of chemotherapy. I am so grateful to the surgeons at Fox Chase. With Dr. Ridge’s expertise in oral cancer surgery - I could not have been in better hands. The hospital nurses and staff took great care of me after the operation. They really are the best at what they do.

I have heard war stories from people who have been treated for cancer at other hospitals not completely focused on cancer. It is my belief that, without that focus, the hospital may not know how to provide proper treatment. Fox Chase doctors and staff know what they are doing because they only treat cancer patients. I feel that they are true experts.

My family and friends were so supportive of me during this time and during my recovery, and their support really helped. Before my cancer, my wife, Catherine, was the kind of woman who would have fainted at the sight of blood. When I got sick, she stepped up to the plate and took great care of me. I couldn’t have done it without her and the docs at Fox Chase.

Learn more about head and neck cancer treatment at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

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