“It’s been life-changing. The doctors, therapists… everyone at Kessler has been top-notch. They provided me with the therapies I needed along with the special oral devices, strategies and support that have helped restore my health and, equally important, my hope.”
Climbing tough rocks
Whether scaling rock walls or tackling cancer, James Schmidt approaches each challenge tactically. After understanding risks, he remains determined to find the best way forward.
First diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2004, James had several recurrences through the years. He endured extensive surgeries of the mouth, jaw and neck, along with radiation treatment. Serious complications — including edema (swelling), radiation fibrosis (tissue damage) of the neck, and trismus (the inability to open his jaw) — followed. These impacted his speech and the ability to chew, swallow and turn his head.
“With each procedure, I rebounded quickly and healed thoroughly. This last round of surgery and radiation was a one-two punch that left my body and spirits in dire straits. It got to the point where I lost all hope. I was in constant pain. It took me more than 90 minutes to eat a simple meal. It was near impossible to carry on a conversation. I was scared... discouraged, but defeat wasn’t an option.”
James struggled to find solutions. Countless hours of research led him to Kessler Institute’s cancer rehabilitation specialists.
“It’s been life-changing. The doctors, therapists... everyone at Kessler has been top-notch. They provided me with the therapies I needed along with the special oral devices, strategies and support that have helped restore my health and, equally important, my hope.”
James admits he still has a way to go to reach his personal summit.
“I’ve climbed some of the toughest rocks in the world, but cancer is a far more difficult opponent. It takes a different kind of courage and approach to conquer it. But if you dig deep, find the right medical team and continue to work hard, your goals are within reach. Just remember, whatever your challenge, you just need to find ‘your Kessler.’”