People urged to look out for signs of oral cancer during Mouth Cancer Awareness month

Dave Withers is pictured with his father, John Withers, at an event

Dave Withers is campaigning for mouth cancer awareness following the death of his father, John Withers (pictured). - Credit: Macmillan

A bereaved man has remembered his father by campaigning for Macmillan during Mouth Cancer Awareness month.

Following the death of 74 year-old John Withers, of Clevedon, his son says 'a two-minute mouth check could save a life'. 

After caring for his father, who suffered from oral cancer during the pandemic, Dave Withers is now campaigning for the charity.

He is calling for people to perform regular mouth checks so they can look out for early signs of cancer.

Image of John Withers following his death from oral cancer

John Withers. - Credit: Macmillan

Dave said: "Dad’s diagnosis could not have been worst timed with the lockdown. It was really challenging trying to support each other from afar.

"My mum was unable to care for my dad on her own because of a recent hip operation. I had also just been made redundant.

"As a family, we decided I should move in with my parents, and care for my dad, who was being fed by a feeding tube for his last weeks.

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"It was the hardest job I have ever done, but I have no regrets. On the day of dad’s funeral, I received a phone call offering me a job with Smile Together, a dental practice. It just seemed like fate.

"Dad always told me, when times are hard remember to ‘smile together'. I think it was meant to be."

Macmillan helps people suffering with cancer through emotional and financial support.

A spokesperson for the charity said: "Mouth Cancer Awareness month is a campaign to encourage the public to be aware of symptoms and perform regular mouth checks.

"Late detection is the key reason for most deaths from mouth cancer. There are nearly 9,000 cases of mouth cancer in the UK every year."

Some early signs of oral cancer can include an ulcer or white or red patch anywhere in the mouth that does not heal within three weeks and difficulty swallowing, chewing, or moving the jaw or tongue.

Dave has also urged people to visit their dentist if they have any concerns, he said: "If I can help save one life by creating awareness of mouth cancer, my dad would not have died in vain.”

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