It was October 2017 when John found the lump. It started small, on the right side of his neck, and just to be safe, his primary doctor sent him to a local specialist to take a closer look. This very well may have saved John’s life.
They found a large tumor by his salivary gland and immediately sent him to see a Head & Neck Cancer Specialist at Roswell Park in Buffalo. A biopsy just before Christmas revealed their worst fears. John was diagnosed with an uncommon, stage 4 sarcomatoid carcinoma of the throat. Surgery was scheduled right away in January to remove the tumor, but then a PET scan revealed that there was more than they anticipated. Cancer had spread to the muscle tissue in John’s spine and could not be removed surgically. John had to have seven weeks of radiation, five days a week before they could remove the tumor. Each day that he missed would reduce his chances of recovery by 5%. Driving back and forth from Jamestown five days a week was a risk, especially in the winter months. All four of their children and the doctors wanted them to stay close to ensure he wouldn’t miss any of the treatments. How could they possibly afford to do this?
They had heard about Kevin Guest House from two different friends who had stayed there and decided the best decision was to stay close. “When you live in Jamestown and you want the best care, you have to travel”, said Maggie. “We are so grateful to have found this wonderful place.”
John toughed it out through his seven weeks of treatment, but it wasn’t easy. John suffered from excruciating pain in his head and was barely able to eat, surviving on smoothies that Maggie lovingly made throughout his treatment twice a day. “Some days it just required some tough love to get through,” Maggie recalled. You could often find Maggie in the kitchen scrap-booking or making lovely cards while John rested after treatments. This was one of the many ways Kevin Guest House felt like a home away from home. She made lovely cards for the volunteers and left the staff the beautiful note below.
John completed his radiation treatments and was finally able to go back to Jamestown on March 18th, after being away from home for nearly two months. After week 13, he will have another PET scan to see if the cancer by his spine is gone so he can have the tumor removed. His fight isn’t over, but it’s comforting to know that there is a place for them at Kevin Guest House when they need us.