Grant Achatz on The Oprah Winfrey Show [video]
Famed Alinea chef Grant Achatz was on The Oprah Winfrey Show this morning to share the incredible story about his cancer diagnosis. Reassured that a white spot on his tongue was harmless, eventually the pain became unbearable, he could only consume liquids, and lost twenty pounds. After years of being misdiagnosed, and multiple doctors telling him not to worry, Achatz finally went to an oral surgeon. The doctor told him: "The cancer's very advanced... stage-four. If we don't remove your tongue, you're going to die in six months."
His reaction to the news that his tongue would have to be amputated: "There's absolutely no way you can do this. Do you realize who I am, what I do... I'm a chef. Not only that, but cooking and tasting and creating food is my passion... Certainly, what they were recommending was a very severe treatment, that would compromise a lot of aspects of my life, but they were gonna remove my soul."
He refused to accept the aggressive surgery, going to doctor after doctor, and finally got a fifth opinion at the University of Chicago Hospital, where they were willing to "rearrange the protocol, and put surgery last, and chemotherapy and radiation first, in an effort to preserve the tongue." Evoking the show's theme of being a "smart patient," he advises: "Be your own advocate."