Meet Pam and Jonathan
Laryngeal Cancer Patient
Mother-in-Law & Caregiver
Pam met her future son-in-law when she was helping at a cancer support group in Okeechobee. Jonathan was a police officer who was visiting Florida, but lived in the country of Saint Lucia. When Pam called her daughter Emily to come meet this happy, outgoing young man, it was an instant love connection.
Within months they were married. Shortly after, Jonathan became concerned about a sore throat. A biopsy came back clear. And then a second one—also clear. By the time Emily became pregnant, his voice had been reduced to a whisper. Something was definitely wrong. A third biopsy revealed the truth: Jonathan had cancer on his larynx.
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. The reality set in: Jonathan was a father and needed to be there for his son. He decided to call Moffitt Cancer Center. A week later his surgeon removed his voice box, a procedure that likely saved his life.
Pam, a self-described “fixer,” struggled with the fact that she couldn’t fix Jonathan’s new reality. Working with staff at Moffitt, she was able to find temporary living arrangements “and the different resources that were available so Emily didn’t have to pick between caretaking her husband, and her brand new baby,” she says. “Moffitt made that incredibly easy.”
Understandably, Jonathan was very concerned about not being able to communicate with his new son. Today 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. “He has adapted well,” Pam notes admiringly. “I know that he has his bad days, but you never see it. He’s always smiling. Always.”
Living to be there for his wife and son would make anyone smile. Jonathan is so thankful for Moffitt, who had the head and neck cancer specialists who could perform his surgery. “I appreciate you all,” he says.
Pam expresses it a bit more colorfully: “If I had all the doctors and nurses here, I’d jump up and run around and give them all high fives. They gave me back my son-in-law.”