Stage IV Tonsil Cancer Patient-Caregiver; Detroit, MI
Julie’s best friend, J. Love, was diagnosed with Stage IV Throat Cancer in November 2015. At age 46, he was otherwise healthy, and the diagnosis came as a shock. J. Love was also considered “relatively lucky,” as the cancer was contained to one tonsil and the lymph nodes in his neck. His treatment included nine weeks of chemo, 34 radiation treatments, and insertion of a gastic feeding tube, along with acupuncture and reiki.
“Watching someone you love battle cancer is scary and heartbreaking. Dealing with it from 3,000 miles away is awful. My best friend lives in Las Vegas, and I live in Detroit,” explained Julie. “After three weeks of treatment, his voice was gone, and his throat was too sore to talk on the phone. Not being able to see him or talk to him while he was going through treatment was excruciating.”
J. Love’s wife worked out of town, and he couldn’t be left alone during treatment. Julie had the honor and privilege to travel to Las Vegas and care for him during four weeks of his treatment. While there, Julie became his primary caregiver, driving him to his radiation and chemotherapy treatments, sitting beside J. Love, and holding his hand. She helped him with his gastric feeding tube. Together, they went to all of his oncology appointments and acupuncture treatments.
“Most importantly, I was there for him. I crawled into bed and watched TV with him. I let him vent. I hugged him and told him everything would be okay. I was his advocate at the hospital when he had no voice. I was strong for him when he wasn’t feeling strong. I was there to love him and support him however I could,” explained Julie. “That’s what friends do for one another.”
J. Love has been in remission since May 2016, and Julie and he are currently writing a book about their experience with his cancer journey. While it is a true portrayal of the difficulties of head and neck cancer treatments, they are hoping that his positive outcome will give hope and inspiration to others facing these tough diagnoses.