Sustenance … Lost “Sustenance … Lost” (October 2013), written by an ASHA employee about her mother’s experiences with tongue cancer, was heartbreaking to me. When I read, “In retrospect we probably should have sought help from a speech-language pathologist” (this after her mother had already had two surgeries and radiation therapy) and when ... Inbox
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Inbox  |   December 01, 2013
Sustenance … Lost
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ASHA News & Member Stories / Inbox
Inbox   |   December 01, 2013
Sustenance … Lost
The ASHA Leader, December 2013, Vol. 18, 5. doi:10.1044/leader.IN6.18122013.5
The ASHA Leader, December 2013, Vol. 18, 5. doi:10.1044/leader.IN6.18122013.5
“Sustenance … Lost” (October 2013), written by an ASHA employee about her mother’s experiences with tongue cancer, was heartbreaking to me. When I read, “In retrospect we probably should have sought help from a speech-language pathologist” (this after her mother had already had two surgeries and radiation therapy) and when I read, “I can’t really say that the SLPs were instrumental in helping my mother regain speaking and eating functions … ”, I felt a jolt of incredulity. It is really disheartening to learn that ASHA’s own employees don’t know how, when and where to access appropriate speech-language pathology services. As a speech-language pathologist who has seen hundreds of head-and-neck cancer patients over my long career, the idea that this lady had no SLP help until late in the game, even though her daughter works for ASHA—well, as I have said, it was heartbreaking. I am not a marketing person, but certainly we, as a profession, can and must do a better job of telling both patients and physicians (and our own employees!) how, when and where to access appropriate services from us.
Mary J. Bacon, Elmhurst, Ill.
The author replies:
Our issue was not lack of knowledge of what to do, but one of access—finding a provider with the appropriate expertise within a specific travel radius. I consulted with several ASHA colleagues and the SLP in the surgeon’s office for guidance and received knowledgeable advice.

Find the article at on.asha.org/sustenance-lost.

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December 2013
Volume 18, Issue 12