Super Surgeons viewers were left in tears last night as it was revealed a mother who was diagnosed with throat cancer while on maternity leave had died months after the show filmed.
Appearing on the program last night, Jade Whitehead, from Cheshire, explained how she had been diagnosed with throat cancer while on maternity leave months after she gave birth to her two-year-old daughter, Mya.
After she refused treatment which would mean having her voicebox removed, Professor Vin Paleri, a head and neck surgeon at the Royal Marsden in Londonwas able to remove her cancerous tumor through her mouth using a robot.
However viewers were devastated to learn at the end of the program that months after filming, Jade was told she had stage four breast cancer and had passed away.
Many were left sobbing by the emotional scenes, with one person writing: ‘Oh Jade! Such a cruel disease. Her daughter got to hear her voice during those last months though and her legacy will live on thanks to her surgery.’
Super Surgeons viewers were left in tears last night as it was revealed Jade Whitehead, from Cheshire, who was diagnosed with throat cancer while on maternity leave had died months after the show filmed
Meanwhile another commented: ‘Just watched first two episodes. In absolute bits. The dedication of the surgeons is amazing and the utter frustration felt by them when things don’t go to plan is so gutting.’
In March 2020, at the age of 39, Jade was diagnosed with throat cancer within months of having her daughter Mya.
The program began as cameras followed Jade, a mother-of-one, who explained how she had come to be diagnosed with throat cancer.
She explained: ‘I was on maternity leave, my daughter was six-months-old. I took her for a check up at the GP. At the very end of the appointment, my doctor said, “And how are you?”
However viewers were devastated to learn at the end of the program that months after filming, Jade learned she had stage four breast cancer and had passed away
‘I said: “I’m okay, but I’ve had a sore throat for about five weeks.” I was not worried at all.’
Jade was devastated when at a follow up appointment, surgeons confirmed she had cancer in her throat.
After undergoing gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Jade was given the all-clear in September 2020.
However six months later, she found a lump and was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer.
Appearing on the program last night, Jade explained how she had been diagnosed with throat cancer while on maternity leave months after she gave birth to her daughter, Mya
What is throat cancer and how many people does it affect in the UK?
Laryngeal cancer is a type of cancer that affects the larynx (voice box).
In the UK, there are about 2,400 new cases of laryngeal cancer each year.
The condition is more common in people over the age of 60, and around four times more common in men than women.
The main symptoms include: a change in your voice, such as sounding hoarse, pain or difficulty when swallowing, a lump or swelling in the neck, a long-lasting cough, a persistent sore throat or earache and in severe cases, difficulty breathing.
Some people may also experience bad breath, breathlessness, a high-pitched wheezing noise when breathing, unexplained weight loss, or fatigue.
It is not clear exactly what causes laryngeal cancer, but the risk is increased by smoking tobacco, regularly drinking large amounts of alcohol, a family history of head and neck cancer, an unhealthy diet or exposure to certain chemicals and substances, such as asbestos and coal dust.
And at the start of 2022, following a single mastectomy and ongoing treatments, her throat cancer returned.
On the program, Jade said: ‘Now, they want to remove my full voicebox to cure the cancer and I’d be left with a permanent breathing tube.
‘So I wouldn’t be able to speak to anybody, especially my daughter.’
However she said she refused to have the procedure because she wanted to be able to speak to her daughter Mya.
She said: ‘I just could not have had this operation. We need a miracle.’
The mother-of-one added: ‘The minute she hears me, she knows it’s me. When I say things to her, she knows it’s okay or not okay.
‘I joke around with her and use my jokey voice. So to maybe be faced with blank looks of confusion if I couldn’t talk to her…it’s Mummy’s voice. its just so important.’
Her doctor, Professor Paleri, explained: ‘Jade has had radiotherapy with chemotherapy for her throat cancer. And despite that, the cancer has come back.
‘The only option Jade has is to go in and cut the cancer out. The conventional operation would be to take out the whole voice box, but she wont have that.
‘She has told me removing her voicebox is not a negotiable at all…but I think we could potentially use a robot, go in through the mouth and take the cancer out, leaving her voice box behind.’
Jade said: ‘Right now, we can see a future again, which is everything. So there is some hope for me and my family.’
Heading into the hospital for her operation, Jade admitted she was feeling anxious.
She explained: ‘I took [my daughter] to nursery yesterday morning and I didn’t want her to think anything unusual was going on. I did have a few extra kisses and then I just said, “I love you baby bear”.’
Professor Paleri explained: ‘When a cancer returns after treatment, it’s often very aggressive.
The mother-of-one was highly emotional as she said goodbye to her sister on the program before having surgery
‘Surgery is often the last treatment and that can mean losing a part of you. But some patients draw a red line. They say, “I’d rather die, do something else”. That forces us to innovate.’
He explained the surgery was extremely delicate, because the team didn’t want to damage Jade’s throat at all.
However the doctors were surprised by what they found inside, discovering that the tumors had grown into the Adam’s Apple.
The doctor went on to remove half of Jade’s Adam’s Apple along with the cancer, which he took out through her throat.
She refused to have her whole voicebox removed, and instead underwent surgery where doctors used a robot to take her tumor out through her mouth
Her doctor, Professor Palerhi, described how her insistence had pushed the boundaries of medicine and now meant he could offer others a different treatment option
He added: ‘Jade made us do something we’ve never done before…The next time, a patient with a similar cancer comes along, I will be able to say, “Is this something you would like?”
‘We learned a lot from Jade. A lot.’
At the end of the programme, Professor Palerhi explained he felt positively about her recovery, adding: ‘Jades recovery went well from surgery – she has her own voice to speak to her daughter which is what she wanted.
‘She has changed the way that I now think about some aspects of surgery.’
However, moments later, a title card revealed that Jade had been diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, which had spread to her bones.
Tragically, months after she had throat surgery, Jade learned her breast cancer had returned and had spread (pictured with her daughter, Mya)
The mother-of-one, pictured here with her sister, died earlier this year, five months after the show was filmed
She was discharged from the Royal Marsden and returned home, where she was referred to the Christie hospital in Manchester to undergo treatment to prolong her life.
However she then learned the cancer had spread to almost every part of her body, including her lungs.
Five months after the show was filmed, Jade passed away.
Her family paid tribute to her on a JustGiving page, writing: ‘After all the trauma and pain she went through, she was a true warrior and resilient. Remember the beautiful, kind, wild, crazy, loving, caring Jade.
After the program, viewers were shocked to learn Jade had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had died within six months of the surgery
‘RIP Jade. Life will never be the same without you in it; the world truly lost one of its brightest stars.’
Viewers were touched by her story last night, with one writing: ‘A very emotional watch. In absolute bits but also in absolute awesome too. Surgeons are angels. Fullstop.’
Another added: ‘So sad to hear the news that Jade passed away. Thoughts with her family and friends. What a truly inspirational fighting lady she was.’