Losing Tongue Helps Woman Lose Weight, Survive Cancer

A woman from New York said she had to lose her tongue to be able to lose weight and treat her food addiction. But it was actually another condition that forced her to go under the knife to save her life. 

Jen Costa weighed nearly 650 pounds before her surgery that removed 95 percent of her tongue. She needed the procedure to treat her stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma, Fox News reported Tuesday.

Costa started to gain weight after a car accident. Left bedbound because of the injury, she spent more time eating and self-medicating with drugs for more than 14 years, which led to her extra 350 pounds.

The 35-year-old said she first noticed a problem in her mouth in 2015. However, it took long before Costa learned it was oral cancer since a dentist allegedly dismissed the small white lump on her tongue as a virus, SWNS reported.

The disease already reached stage 4 when diagnosed. The cancer had spread to the lymph nodes in her neck.

However, doctors initially denied surgery to remove the disease due to the potential risks linked to Costa’s obesity. She explained that the large amount of fat around her neck may block the radiation during the procedure. 

"He told me he didn't feel comfortable operating on me because of my size,” she said about the doctor’s decision. 

Luckily, Costa found a doctor willing to treat her. But she was warned that the procedure would require removing majority of her tongue and reconstructing it with skin from her arm. 

She might also need a feeding tube for the rest of her life and a ventilator to breathe. But the surgery was successful and Costa was able to live a normal life.

“I had to die a little in order to learn to appreciate how it felt to truly be alive,” she told SWNS. “I’m alive for the very first time in my life.”

More than two years after the operation, Costa lost nearly 500 pounds. She is currently on a diet of liquid shakes and underwent several procedures to remove her excess skin.

“To be honest I don’t know how I survived it,” she said. “The diagnosis just turned my life completely around.” 

Diet Poor diet and significant weight gain have been linked to numerous health problems, including higher risk of obesity. Pixabay