A battle with cancer left this woman without a tongue - until she had a new one made of her legs.
Surgeons removed skin and muscle from the woman's thigh to restore the part of her tongue that had been lost due to her rare infection with squamous cell carcinoma.
Cameron Newsom, 42, had half of his tongue removed in an attempt to fight cancer after dealing with excruciating pain after being diagnosed in 2013.
"At the time of my diagnosis, I had lost over seven pounds because I was unable to eat or drink," Newsom, from Colorado Springs, Colorado, told Newsflare. "I was 33 at the time and in very good shape, so I could not understand why it happened to me."
It all started after she noticed white spots on her tongue and her dentist recommended a biopsy for the pain-free spot.
Despite coming back negative for cancer, she developed somewhere else a year later. But again, the results were negative.
Then the pain began.
Her tongue became sore and extremely sensitive, making eating, drinking and talking a nightmare. While her dentists prescribed antibiotics, the symptoms worsened.
Eventually, her pink tongue tumors were diagnosed by an ear, nose, and throat specialist, who essentially gave her a "death sentence."
She had stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma.
"My reaction was immediately: I'm ready to fight this," she said, though she "had never been so scared."
But the treatment - three rounds of chemo - proved to be exhausting.
“There would be times at the dinner table where I just broke down in tears because I couldn’t eat anything,” she said. “[My son] Hudson, who was 5 at the time, did not know why I was always so upset, and it got to the point where I could not physically talk to him or my husband. "
The "low point" for her was not being able to spend time with her friends as she had to leave early. She once specifically remembered when she came home sad, only to see clumps of her hair fall out while she was bathing.
Fortunately, Newsom's treatment was not for nothing: she successfully began to heal.
But the next step was to remove the tumor, which also meant she had to cut off part of her tongue.
After a nine-and-a-half-hour operation performed by some of the best oral surgeons based at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, the infected part of her tongue was replaced with skin and muscle from her thighs.
"They usually take skin from your forearm, but I'm only 5-foot-2, so I didn't have enough skin on my forearm to replace what I got removed," she said. "But I've been an athlete all my life, and there were plenty of them to use from my thighs."
It was not easy for the mother of one to recover, and when she woke up, tubes came from her neck and nose to allow her to eat and breathe. She was also under constant surveillance in the hospital and received an additional nine weeks of radiation and chemo to get rid of the remaining cancer cells.
"The strangest part of the whole experience was when I felt a rough texture on the thigh part of my tongue - and when I looked at myself in the mirror, it had started to grow leg hair!"
Now, with her husband, Anthony, 42, and her son, Hudson, 14, she is living cancer-free with her new tongue after learning to speak again.
"I can only taste on the right side of my tongue, which is the right side, and only chew on the right side because the left one is attached to my gums," she said. "My manners are awful because sometimes food just falls out of my mouth, and when food gets stuck under my tongue, it feels like having a little rock in my shoe."
The strange feeling is something she would describe as similar to "having a dead arm or a dead leg," adding that it is "constantly tingling and numb."
But nine years later without going back, she is still a gymnastics coach and living life just like before.
"2013 was the hardest year of my life and I could not have done it without the support of my amazing Anthony and the rest of my family," she said.