Cancer - Geoffrey M.
Sales director Geoffrey Marks depends on his voice to take him through many presentations and speaking engagements. But, the 57-year-old San Jose resident never dreamed his throat and voice would be major players in another important event – one that could have cost him his life.
Two years ago, after being plagued by a sore throat for weeks, Geoffrey visited an ear, nose and throat specialist. When Mark Kita, MD said he suspected throat cancer, Geoffrey was shocked.
“I was mortified and didn’t believe it,” he recalls.
A few days later, an endoscopy confirmed the diagnosis of Stage IV squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Geoffrey’s state of denial continued until he was brought up short by a physician acquaintance.
“He said ‘you are in for the fight of your life, and you’d better take it very seriously’,” remembers Geoffrey. “From then on, I moved like lightening.”
How should someone deal with the devastating news that they have cancer? Don’t waste energy worrying about how or why you have it, and don’t feel sorry for yourself, Geoffrey advises.
In his own words, Geoffrey’s treatment was “ugly”, but he was determined to get through it. Therapy included six weeks of radiation, five days a week and twice on Wednesday. At the same time, he had a three-dose course of intravenous chemotherapy.
The Good Samaritan Hospital radiation oncologist who directed Geoffrey’s radiation therapy helped him stay positive. The hospital’s Radiation Oncology department is equipped with some of the most advanced technology available, making it possible to deliver powerful beams of precisely targeted radiation to combat cancer effectively.
“It never entered my mind for one moment that I wasn’t going to beat this thing,” asserts Geoffrey.
Advised that his treatment would cause him to have extreme difficulty swallowing, Geoffrey also made the difficult decision to have a gastric tube inserted into his stomach before therapy began. Although he lost 27 lbs. and had to relearn to swallow afterwards, the tube made it possible for Geoffrey to stay hydrated and nourished during his battle with cancer.
Once, after taking medication to help protect his taste buds and salivary glands from the effects of radiation therapy, he went into anaphylactic shock and was admitted to Good Samaritan’s intensive care unit. Determined not to disrupt his therapy schedule, Geoffrey convinced his doctors to allow him to travel to the hospital’s near-by Mission Oaks campus for radiation treatment. There, the amazed staff watched as Geoffrey arrived via ambulance.
“The entire experience was no picnic, but everyone I know was extremely supportive, and I believe it made a difference,” he comments. “It was, however, very difficult for my wife, who felt there was little she could do to help me.”
In July, Geoffrey received the news that he was cancer-free. With a voice that’s just the slightest bit weaker and nine pounds back on his handsome frame, he feels good and looks great. Despite this, he will never be quite the same.
“Like most cancer patients, I have an added appreciation for how precious life is,” he muses. “And, oh yes, I used to snore and suffer from sleep apnea, but radiation therapy changed that, too. Now, I’m a silent and content sleeper.”