Motivational speaker back to work after losing half his tongue

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ElisaHahnK5

KING5.com

Posted on June 17, 2014 at 5:29 PM

Updated Sunday, Jun 22 at 6:40 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- With one last sip of water, and a clearing of his throat, Bob Haase eased back into his career as a motivational speaker.

"If you're not moving, changing, and adapting to what's going on, you're going to fail," he told a group of massage therapists and chiropractors at a marketing seminar.

In the last nine months, he's been forced to practice what he preaches. He now enunciates every word carefully. Only a few times during the seminar was his speech difficult to understand.

"This class was supposed to happen last October, but the cancer I was dealing with since 2008 came back at heavy pace," Haase told his class. "Long story short, I had to have half my tongue removed."

The aggressive growth in his tongue was called squamous cell carcinoma. Doctors removed half his tongue, reconstructing it using tissue from his forearm.

Related: Half of man's tongue reconstructed by Seattle doctors

At first, it left this usually talkative father speechless. As he slowly recovered, he started a blog, sharing the hardship of chemo and radiation, losing his ability to taste, and learning to speak again.

But almost all of his blogs ended with the same positive message.

"I feel loved, thank you," he said into the camera.

After a frightening fight with sepsis and pneumonia during his recovery, his daughters worried they might lose him.
"I was like 'Dad, you need to walk me down the aisle, get your act together. We are getting through this,' and he did," said 22-year-old Sara Haase.

Robert Haase is now 60 pounds lighter after the chemotherapy, still slightly self-conscious about his speech, but able to hold a crowd.

"I was really worried about what people would think about me or how I spoke," he said. "A friend reminded me, it's not how you say it. It's what you say."

He still can't taste food, but knows more than ever how sweet life is.

"I'm alive. I'm happy. This is not the voice I would have chosen, but it's the voice I've been given," he said.

And Haase is going to use it.

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