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The cameras were rolling and I was trying to say my lines, but I knew I sounded like I'd had a stroke.For the last 30 years I've been playing Barbara Ryan, a feisty woman who's never at a loss for words, on As the World Turns. Viewers started writing to the show and flooding fan websites, wondering why I sounded so awful.I knew I owed them an explanation, but I just wasn't ready. On March 5, 2007–my daughter Georgia's 14th birthday–I found out that I had oral cancer. I remember leaving the doctor's office, picking up Georgia's birthday cake, wrapping some presents and hosting a party as if nothing had happened. I thought most people who got oral cancer were men who smoked and drank heavily, and I don't fall into any of those categories.But I learned that I was probably among the fastest-growing group of oral cancer patients, because my illness was most likely caused by HPV-16, a strain of a common sexually transmitted virus that can also cause cervical cancer.I don't know what my future will be, but I hope to get healthy and go back to work soon.Despite the change in my appearance, I know I'll always be welcome on As the World Turns–the cast is like my family.The surgeon thought it was a combination of a fungal and a bacterial infection.
Since I'd been on As the World Turns for so long, the writers and producers agreed to "diagnose" my character with oral cancer in early 2008 and weave it in as a storyline.
I haven't started the radiation as I write this, but doctors tell me there will be severe side effects.
I already have a pouchy neck and a 6-inch scar across it.
Meanwhile, I planned to see at least two specialists in the next few days.
Saving My Speech My daughter, Kelsey, took me to the first doctor.
He prescribed a special mouthwash, which made it shrink for a little while. I went back to his office, and that's when he found a tumor underneath the infection and biopsied it.