Becky Roth, 49-year-old oral cancer patient and runner, defies the odds

January 07, 2013

When an orthopedic surgeon told Becky Roth, a lifelong jogger, that she would never run again after cancer-related surgery on her legs, Roth told herself, "I'm going to prove him wrong."

The surgeon, and the entire Providence Cancer Center medical team treating Roth, should have remembered that the Sherwood mom was different from the start.

Roth is 49. She has never smoked and is not much of a drinker. She had no reason to suspect she had oral cancer, the disease that eventually led to her leg surgery.

The 40,000 people diagnosed annually with oral cancer traditionally have been older men with a history of smoking and heavy drinking, said Bryan Bell, M.D., DDS, FACS, director of Providence's new multidisciplinary oral, head and neck cancer treatment center in Northeast Portland.

The new treatment center, which opened in December, is unusual for the Northwest in that it brings all the players on the oral cancer treatment team in one room, increases access to clinical trials and puts clinicians next door to researchers to promote collaboration between scientists and physicians in the search for a cure, Bell said.

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View the Providence "How We Care" video on Becky Roth
Watch the KPTV Health Watch segment