Husband & Father, Manufacturing Salesman and Survivor of Stage II HPV-Attributed Throat Cancer; Dacula, GA
Gary’s journey dates back to June 2018, specifically to a Disney Land vacation family photo. Looking at the photo, he realized how overweight he’d become, and made a doctor’s appointment for a full physical. Days before the doctor’s appointment, he noticed a lump on his neck. At the doctor’s appointment, the lump was examined but there were no real concerns. Prescribed cholesterol medicine, Gary left his doctor’s office with a commitment to a healthier lifestyle of diet and exercise, and a follow-up appointment in a month’s time.
At the follow-up doctor’s appointment, the lump was still there, and his weight was decreasing, so his physician ordered an ultrasound, which was inconclusive.
As a precaution, Gary underwent a CT scan and was scheduled to meet with an ENT, fully anticipating good news and a prescription for antibiotics. The ENT examined him by inserting a small camera into his nose and then explained to Gary that he may have squamous cell carcinoma. An MRI and a biopsy later confirmed the diagnosis.
“I was in shock. I flew out that evening for work, and I was a mess emotionally. I flew back on my birthday, and all I can remember is my wife and kids singing happy birthday to me, and I was just bawling. The next two weeks were tough. I was not in a good place. I had the MRI & biopsy done and got the diagnosis on 9/11,” said Gary.
The waiting for Gary was truly the hardest part. He began treatment on October 1, 2018, and finished November 14, 2018.
His medical team provided full details of all the treatments side effects. Gary informed them that he wasn’t planning on having any of the side effects. Fortunately, and true to his word, he didn’t experience many issues. He was able to eat whatever he wanted. The chemotherapy did wipe him out for a few days, and he experienced a bit of a sore throat. His medical team was pleasantly surprised that he handled the treatment so well.
Gary, a full-time salesman, never missed work throughout his treatments. “I was able to do this through prayer, stubbornness, and humor. It all really helped keep my attitude positive and my head in the right frame of mind,” explained Gary. “Look, cancer sucks. It’s scary, but it can be beaten. Ninety percent of what it takes to beat it is in one’s mind.”