Posted on Tuesday 18 December 2018
Jay, Mike and Cheryl with staff from Guy's
Pop star Jay Aston, who sprang to fame with the band Bucks Fizz, has thanked staff at Guy’s Hospital following a successful operation to treat mouth cancer earlier this year.
The singer returned to the ward where she spent ten days recuperating after a seven-hour operation to remove a section of her tongue and lymph nodes.
Jay, 57, was joined by bandmates Cheryl Baker and Mike Nolan who met the team that cared for her during her stay in July.
Now cancer free, Jay from Westerham in Kent, had a section of the left side of her tongue removed from front to back. Surgeons Alastair Fry and Luke Cascarini performed microvascular surgery to successfully transplant tissue from her thigh to reconstruct her tongue.
Jay, who started singing again in November, said: “I'm here and I wasn't sure I was going to see Christmas, so I'm very happy.
“It is quite emotional to be back and it’s lovely to see all these faces because for a while I wasn’t talking. I did a lot of writing on boards before I could speak and then the world opened up.
“It has been a bit of a journey and I notice every few weeks that I improve so I wanted to come back and thank everyone that looked after me.”
Around 6,800 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer each year in the UK – more than 18 every day – and Jay received her diagnosis whilst making the band’s new album “Christmas with The Fizz”. She recorded all of her vocals before the operation, unsure if she’d be able to speak or sing again.
Bandmate Cheryl Baker said: “It was much bigger than just an operation. It was a matter of life and death, as well as Jay’s career.”
Consultant oral maxillofacial surgeon Alastair Fry explained how the team adapted the surgery so the band could still do the famous skirt ripping routine to their hit Making Your Mind Up. He said: “Conventionally we do an incision from the knee to the hip but we moved it in and up which made it a bit harder to do but less visible for Jay’s work.
“We’re trying to get people through the treatment safely so they can carry on doing what they do. That’s what we want.
“One of the things about head and neck cancer is the impact it has on people’s speech, swallow, and appearance. So it is a challenge to remove the cancer and make sure as far as possible you maintain all those important parts of quality of life.
“Treating someone who is a professional singer and dancer, where it’s their livelihood, comes with a big challenge and shows how far some of the treatments have come that we can do it and they go back to work within a few months of treatment.”
The Fizz have recorded their gratitude for the care Jay received in the sleeve notes to their album which reads: “PS from Mike and Cheryl, thank you Guy’s Hospital for giving us our Jay back. We are eternally in your debt”.
Alastair added: “Jay’s cancer was caught at an early stage. The earlier cancers are caught the more effectively they can be treated so we’d encourage people to come forwards and see specialists if there’s any mouth ulcers that don’t heal in a couple of weeks.”
Lizzie Hunt, matron for Blundell ward, said: “Jay has recovered so well and it was great to see her again. She was very driven to get home as soon as possible and it’s lovely to hear how Jay is back singing and performing – doing what she loves.”