Patient: Eaker Washington
“I Survived Cancer of the Larynx”
Eaker Washington’s melodious tenor voice not only earned him a spot in his church choir, it was one of his defining trademarks. “My ability to make a joyful noise to the Lord really meant a lot to me,” said Washington, a member of Brownsville Baptist Church in Bolton.
How It All Began
When doctors delivered the news that his days in the choir could be over due to cancer in his larynx, the small cartilage lid that covers the windpipe, was a devastating blow.
“They told me I needed cancer surgery,” said Washington. “Those are two words you never want to hear.”
The initial diagnosis of sinusitis after several months of discomfort and a sore throat helped soften the blow when, after treatment for that condition failed, a biopsy showed his throat contained cancer cells.
While this wasn’t the news he was hoping to hear, Washington said the staff at St. Dominic’s Cancer Center relieved his fears. He says the “entire team,” ranging from nurses to office staff to physicians, assured him they would do everything possible to support him and his wife throughout his treatment.
The Turning Point
“When the doctors at M.D. Anderson told me I could get the same chemotherapy and radiation at St. Dominic’s as there, I was relieved to come back home,” he said. “My feelings changed as soon as I walked into St. Dominic’s Cancer Center. Especially Dr. Johnson and Dr. Qu – the way they treated me and my wife – they are beautiful men in every way. That’s the only way I can describe them.”
Washington’s course of treatment was prescribed by Dr. Guangzhi Qu, a Medical Oncologist at St. Dominic’s Cancer Center and Dr. Al Johnson, a Radiation Oncologist. In addition to what Washington calls their “beautiful spirits,” they were able to offer a medically advanced treatment that helped Washington significantly in terms of his recovery and comfort.
St. Dominic’s Cancer Center, the only hospital in Mississippi, is equipped with Varian’s RapidArc radiotherapy technology, which makes it possible to quickly deliver an advanced image-guided, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) treatment. With one 360 degree rotation of the machine around the patient, RapidArc delivers all the benefits of IMRT in dramatically shorter treatment times.
Recovery and Life After Open Heart Surgery
Although a bit raspy, Washington has the essence of his voice back. He’s taking it easy and has only sung in the choir a few times. He’s looking forward to the day he can pick up a hymnal and lift his praises heavenward.
“I’m back singing again and thanks to my doctors, almost as good as new,” says Washington. “I’m just happy to be alive and kicking. I am one of the lucky ones and I attribute a lot of that to the care I received at St. Dominic’s.”