Corey had braces for a couple of years and wasn’t much of a complainer although the braces irritated the inside lining of his cheek frequently. After the braces were removed, there was a residual area on the inside lining of his cheek which was sore and wouldn’t heal. In fact, it continually got worse. He was eventually diagnosed with myofibroblastic sarcoma of the oral cavity, a rare type of sarcoma.
I first met Corey at a Celebration of Life party where I was speaking about survivorship. The mom who organized the party for her daughter wanted to be sure I acknowledged the five other high school age cancer survivors present who her daughter befriended while going through treatment for cancer. I recall meeting Corey, his twin brother, and his parents as we talked about our oral cavity cancers
This year, I received a donation for the Oral Cancer Awareness Walk in Bethlehem PA from the mom who organized the party, and it was in memory of Corey. She told me how Corey was so sick at his graduation ceremony from high school that he was driven up in a decorated tractor to receive his diploma. His twin brother helped escort him.
Because Corey had a rare oral cavity sarcoma it is difficult to know whether Corey would still be alive with early detection. If he and his parents knew that a sign of cancer in the oral cavity is a sore that doesn’t heal, would they have been more vigilant about pursuing a solution to his persistent sore? Corey’s story is another reminder to be vigilant about a sore in the oral cavity that does not heal within two weeks.