Monday, October 29, 2007

ATWT Star Recovers From Oral Surgery

Fans of Colleen Zenk-Pinter and As the World Turns have been concerned in recent months regarding a change in the actress' speech. Many had expressed concern that maybe the actress, who has played Barbara Ryan for almost 30 years, had suffered a stroke, or some other dibilitating affliction.

It was recently revealed that the actress had been diagnosed with oral cancer and had to have reconstructive surgery performed on her tongue, which would, in turn, affect her speech. Colleen revealed the news of her cancer on CBS' The Early Show.

She was flabbergasted to learn of her diagnosis, as the actress does not smoke or drink, which are two of the biggest risk factors for oral cancer.

"I was so lucky that it was discovered as Stage II cancer," Colleen explained. "They were able to treat me and perform the surgeries on me that still enabled me to have use of my tongue. And I still have my taste buds. It's a very, very invasive kind of procedure."

The actress said this in a statement: "I want to thank the fans for the love and support they have sent my way these past months. You will never know how much your kind words and encouragement have meant to me. Today I am cancer-free, but my disease is with me every second of every day. My tongue is hard, lumpy, laced with scar tissue and often covered with painful blisters. It affects my speech, how I eat, how I drink and how I kiss my husband. Yet, I am lucky."

So for those of you who are nervous about your risk of contracting oral cancer, your dentist can perform a simple check the next time you go in for your twice-yearly cleaning. Don't be afraid to ask him or her how your mouth looks, if the information is not automatically offered to you.