"I have problems swallowing, chewing and eating normal food," says Whanganui man Keith Hindson.

Mr Hindson suffered invasive tongue cancer as a result of biopsy results being misread, and would have avoided such extensive surgery and debilitating radiotherapy had he received a prompt diagnosis.

The man responsible for the mistakes, Dr Peter Liston, admitted professional misconduct at a hearing in Whanganui this week.

But Mr Hindson and his partner, Gloria Rigg, are disappointed with the outcome of the hearing.


"We had been hoping for some kind of censure to suspend Dr Liston," Ms Rigg said.

On Thursday, Dr Liston, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, was censured and fined by the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal in relation to his management of Mr Hindson's case between December 2011 and November 2013.

Mr Hindson and Ms Rigg went through frequent hospital appointments and upheaval of their lifestyle and retirement plans as a result of the incident.

Radiation treatment, as well as surgery, has had a major impact on Mr Hindson's ability to eat and drink.

"The radiation has fried my saliva glands and my epiglottis is stiff so I can choke on even a cup of soup. I have really panicked when I've been choking on food.

"If I eat anything even slightly acidic it attacks my mucosal salivary gland. After one strawberry, my mouth feels like I've sucked on a lemon."

Mr Hindson needs to constantly drink soda water, which neutralises acid, and has bottles of it stashed around the couple's property and in the car.

When it comes to meals, Ms Rigg says Mr Hindson is very limited in what he can eat. Food needs to be very soft, non-acidic and able to be broken down easily in the mouth. He has also been diagnosed as pre-diabetic which limits food options even more.

"I need half a litre minimum of gravy or sauce to carry the food down," Mr Hindson said.

"It needs to be something viscous but can't be too thick or too thin or it doesn't work. There's a lot of frustration for Gloria cooking meals when I then say I can't eat it.

"It takes up to an hour to eat a one-course meal. Eating is a real trial and all the specialists say it's going to get worse."

Even with an omelette, Mr Hindson needs a bottle of olive oil on hand to pour on the meal.

He has no sensation at the back of his mouth, has lost the taste of salt and cannot eat hot or cold foods.

Mr Hindson has had about a third of his tongue removed. He now speaks with a lisp but says that, with the help of speech therapy, his speech has considerably improved from what it was initially after radiation treatment.

The couple had plans to travel overseas to visit friends and family in their retirement, but that is now "out of the window".

"If we go to Palmerston North to see the specialists, we have to take a flask of soup for Keith so there's something he can eat," Ms Rigg said. "There's no way we're going to be able to travel on planes and we can't go to restaurants. Even travel in New Zealand is out the window."

The tribunal ordered that the censure be placed on Dr Liston's record for as long as he is alive. A fine of $5000 was imposed and Dr Liston must make a contribution of $21,000 (30 per cent) towards the hearing costs.

Mr Hindson and Ms Rigg encourage other people who have concerns about medical practitioners to go to the Health and Disability Commissioner.