The article explores the quality of life of two participants who had undergone total glosso-laryngectomy as treatment for advanced tongue base cancer. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and questions relating to the effects of treatment on physical, functional, social and psychological well-being were asked. Thematic analysis of the interviews was done to determine recurring themes in the answers of the participants. The findings showed that total glosso-laryngectomy has a significant impact on the quality of life. A good quality of life can be maintained in a patient who has an extensive support structure and can achieve intelligible oral communication. Pre-operative counselling by a multi-disciplinary team is important for a person to make an informed decision regarding surgery for head and neck cancer. Shared decision making needs to be addressed in the South African service delivery context.