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WE Have Cancer - Lee Silverstein EPISODE 156, 28th July 2020
Discover Your Power With Oral Cancer Survivor Joana Breckner
00:00:00 00:34:14

Discover Your Power With Oral Cancer Survivor Joana Breckner

Joana Breckner, an oral-cancer survivor and motivational speaker, joins Lee this week on the WE Have Cancer podcast. The pair talk about Joana’s battle with oral cancer and how the difficulties of her journey helped her discover her power.

After her dentist found some oral cancer symptoms during a routine checkup, Joana’s story truly began. Dealing with several major surgeries that included the loss of part of her tongue and some of her teeth, Joana had to learn how to eat and speak again. In the unlikeliness of scenarios, Joana found a love for motivational speaking and has since turned her story into a drive to help others find ways to better cope with the difficulties of their lives.

Guest biography:

Joana Breckner is an oral cancer survivor who has turned her journey of difficulties into one of uplifting others. After being diagnosed with oral cancer and having several major surgeries that impacted how she could eat and talk, Joana is now using her story and outlook to help others discover their power.

Table of contents:

  • Introduction and shoutout to the Colon Cancer Coalition

Lee opens this week’s episode talking about the Colon Cancer Coalition’s events becoming virtual due to COVID-19.

  • Introduction to Joana Breckner

Lee introduces Joana and talks a bit about her story as an oral cancer survivor.

  • Becoming an “accidental” motivational speaker

With a speech impediment and a host of side effects from her battle with oral cancer, Joana is an unlikely motivational speaker. Yet, with resolve, that’s exactly what Joana is doing now.

  • The very first time

Joana got her first speaking engagement at a charity event, being able to put a voice to her experience. With a rush of adrenaline and not a dry eye in the building, Joana began getting asked to talk at more and more events moving forward.

  • Oral cancer symptoms and diagnosis

Joana talks about her oral cancer diagnosis. A routine checkup at the dentist found some benign white spots on her tongue that were the first oral cancer symptoms noticed. A few years later and she noticed something in her mouth which turned out to be a tumor.

  • Another tumor and reconstructive surgery

Nearly all the way into remission, Joana’s cancer returned and was aggressive. Her doctor informed her that she needed to have a part of her tongue removed and major reconstructive surgery, including skin graphs.

  • Another tumor and more surgery

A year after her first major surgery, Joana found a lump on the side of her neck. A biopsy later and Joana was back on the operating table to remove a tumor on her jugular vein.

  • Finally in remission

After several surgeries and bouts with cancer, Joana is officially cancer-free for nearly seven years.

  • Oral cancer treatment and speech therapy

After major reconstructive surgery on her mouth, Joana had to learn how to eat and talk again. She talks about her treatment, including going to a nutritionist and learning how to eat solids again. Joana also discusses her difficulties with speech, including needing to get a new phone number she could actually say.

  • Discovering your power

Joana talks about what power means to her and some of the things she harnesses to help put her in the right mindset to keep moving forward.

  • Finding motivation, inspiration, hope, and power

Joana found motivation to create her website and her idea of “discover your power” initially in a depressed woman in her support group. With that woman’s mental state in her mind, Joana wanted to spread hope instead of despair.

  • Helping others

Lee and Joana discuss how her website and message have helped others. Using a friend who was feeling off during COVID-19 quarantine as an example, Joana talks about how she found her power through simple tasks like making the bed in the morning, cooking for her family, and watching her son play the piano.

  • How she’s changed over her journey

After going through such an ordeal and now being cancer-free, Joana talks about how her journey has changed her. From not taking things for granted and worrying about small things, to living in and for the moment, Joana has grown as a person.

Links mentioned in the show:

Joana’s website - Discover Your Power

Follow Joana on Instagram and Facebook

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Know someone touched by cancer who has an inspiring story? Email Lee