Mouth Cancer Action Month

Karen, 47, was ‘shocked beyond belief’ to be told that a seemingly harmless mouth ulcer on her tongue was actually mouth cancer.

Having appeared during the school holidays of 2016 it was not until early February that Karen finally got a biopsy done and her worst fears were realised; it was cancer of the tongue.

When asked if she had any idea that it would be cancer, she replied "I had no idea, I'm a healthy person, I run, don't smoke, don't drink much and I eat healthy food. 

A treatment plan for the mother-of-two from Rochford, Essex, was drawn up. She endured what she describes as ‘unbearable agony’ during her course of treatment for the disease and claims going for runs kept her ‘sane.’

Radiotherapy, a neck dissection and gruelling surgery to have the side of her tongue removed simply weren’t enough to keep her from continuing to run with her local club.

Speaking of her determination to remain mentally and physically healthy in the thick of her battle with cancer, Mrs Liesching-Schroder said: “I just needed to run.”

“Control was being taken away from me by cancer and this was one way of getting control back.

“When it came to the end of radiotherapy, I had the goal that I wanted to run the Southend half-marathon. I was told by clinicians that I wouldn’t be allowed to do it.

“But nobody could stop me. It’s what’s keeping me going and I have to do this.

“Running was my way of being free from it all.”

Despite being told that for immediately after her course of radiotherapy finished the side effects of the treatment would be worse, Karen still completed what she claims to be her ‘best run ever.’

“It was all about celebrating life. Being able to do that was really important to me.

“My running club were all there at the end with high-fives, a massive line of them. It was brilliant.

“I had unbelievable support all the way through from so many people. I was very lucky.”

Mrs Liesching-Schroder’s life has never been the same following her treatment. Complications including “an aggressive form of oral thrush,” learning to speak properly again and concerns about cancer returning are just some of the obstacles she has faced over the last few years, but nothing has stopped her from running regularly.

“After you’ve had cancer you see life a bit differently and you feel a bit more alive afterwards.

“There’s a lot of things out there to enjoy and now I feel I have a second chance at doing just that.”

Years on from her initial diagnosis, she is determined to use her story to help raise awareness of the disease.

“A lot of people think that mouth cancer only happens to smokers, but my story shows that isn’t always the case.

“If you have worried about an unusual change in your mouth then get it checked out. Don’t be frightened but it’s important that you don’t suffer in silence and to remember that the sooner it’s checked out, the sooner it can be sorted.

“Chances are it’ll be fine but in the rare case it is not, it could be a life saver.”

For more information about mouth cancer, including how to spot the disease early, how to reduce your risk and what to do if you notice any of the early warning signs, visit