Chef Grant Achatz was diagnosed with stage 4 tongue cancer.

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When Grant finally went to see an oral surgeon, they took a biopsy of the spot. The results came back, and the prognosis was grim—stage 4 cancer. "It was untreated and undiagnosed, and it went on and on for three years," Grant says. "At that point, your treatment options are very limited and they're very aggressive."

The first doctor recommended the removal of the middle of Grant's tongue, a radical neck dissection and removal of part of his jaw. Grant says this treatment was too harsh to accept. "Cooking and tasting and creating food is my passion," he says. "Certainly what they were recommending was a very severe treatment that would compromise a lot of aspects of my life, but they were going to remove my soul, essentially."

Grant began searching for other options, but the first four specialists he met all recommended the same thing—immediate surgery on his tongue, neck and jaw to remove the cancer. "We just kept saying no. There has to be something better. There has to be something more humane, something more contemporary," he says.
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Published on March 10, 2009

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