Nick's Letter

Dear Mark and All The River Listeners,

My name is Margaret and I am a nurse navigator with the Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute at Memorial University Medical Center.  I am writing to share with you the story of a young man and his new family dealing with the recurrence of cancer in his throat.

Nick is now 38-years-old and has been in love with his wife for 15 years.  Two years ago when the day came to hear the heartbeat of their first child, the were elated.  Unfortunately, that day came with other news too and that was a cancer diagnosis for Nick.  He was diagnosed with a throat cancer after multiple visits to an ENT and losing his voice. There were two biopsies done, leaving them with the news that the cancer was deep in the vocal cords and would require radiation and chemotherapy for best treatment options.

They were able to get the treatment started quickly, but after the first round of chemo, could tell they were in for a long seven weeks.  Chemotherapy made him so sick and tired, but he continued to have to get up and go for daily radiation treatments. Chemo started to make food taste funny and radiation later took the taste away all together. Treatments changed the way his salivary glands worked so he lost about 40 pounds and became dehydrated.  The doctor began to notice some hearing loss as a result of the Chemotherapy so the dose was reduced hoping to help.  He was only 36 at this time and their first child was on the way.

The last two weeks got worse as swallowing became impossible.  Nick had to start getting fluids every day to keep him hydrated, but that was still not enough.  He had to be admitted for four days to the hospital. He was sent home with a feeding tube for nutrition.  For his wife, it was terrifying to manage his feeding and flush his port.  She feared her lack of experience would cause more complications but after a few calls to a nurse, she became a pro.  Halfway through his treatment they found out they were having a girl.  Nick wanted a girl so badly and his wife told me she believed that’s the only thing that kept him going.  Their baby girl was born two months later.

Jumping ahead two years, Nick, now only 38, started to have this weird pain in his neck that went to his ear.  After a CT scan and a visit to his oncologist, there was another biopsy that came back positive again for the cancer.  He faced a recurrence of his head and neck cancer and scarier times ahead.  Nick went into surgery not knowing how much of his voice box would be impaired.  Three weeks out from surgery we found out that there is a good chance that a small amount of cancer is still there by the artery and was unable to be taken out.  Nick will have to go through chemo and radiation again in hopes of killing it all this time around. He is left with a total laryngectomy.  The family’s wish this holiday season is to help purchase his equipment so they can hear his voice and hearing aids so he can hear his daughter’s laughter.

Their little Alice is such a blessing to them and every day she makes them smile even when they face bad days.  They know this puts a hold on growing their family, but they still hope there will be time.  Any blessings for this young family would be greatly appreciated. 

Thank you and happy holidays to you and your listeners.

Margaret Brown
Nurse Navigator
Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute
at Memorial University Medical Center

Photo: Getty Images

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