One word that describes this family is strength. Their story began with happy notes.
Jonathan was a police officer who was visiting Florida. Pam met Jonathan when she was helping at a cancer support group in Okeechobee. Pam is a self-proclaimed matchmaker. When Pam called her daughter Emily to come meet this happy young man, they fell in love fast.
Months later Jonathan and Emily married. Not long after, he got a sore throat that wouldn’t go away. He went to the doctor and received a biopsy which came back with the news that he had voice box cancer. By the time Emily became pregnant, his voice had been reduced to a whisper. Something was definitely wrong.
Head and Neck Cancer Signs and Symptoms
- A persistent sore throat
- Persistent hoarseness or vocal changes
- Chronic nasal congestion or sinus infection
- A swelling, lump or thickness in the neck or face
Disbelief, Then Strength
The news shocked the family. “I was in disbelief,” Pam says. “He’s such a young man and didn’t smoke.” Around this time Emily gave birth to Finley. Jonathan was determined to be there for his newborn son and family. They came together quickly and went to Moffitt Cancer Center. Within a week he underwent surgery to remove his voice box, a procedure that likely saved his life.
They worked with the staff at Moffitt to find temporary living arrangements and resources for the new family including ones for the brand new baby. Pam says, “Moffitt made that incredibly easy.”
His family describes him as "such a happy guy, and he's such an outgoing guy. He's actually quite the talker, and he's just full of life."
Jonathan was concerned about how he would be able to talk with his new son. He uses a combination of an electronic voice box, and in noisier environments, his own cell phone which allows him to write down what he wants to say. Being there for his wife and son is the most important to him. Jonathan describes that he always said a little prayer and forgot the odds and ends, just believe and it will be better in the long run.
Now, one of Jonathan's favorite things to do is "...to see Finley wake up at night and just watch how he acts. That moment is just very priceless. I never thought a baby would make you feel that way. I just want to see him grow up, and be a baby. That's really priceless."
Do you have questions about head and neck cancer, you do not need a referral to consult with the outstanding team of experts at Moffitt. For more information, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online.