Take Charge

Head and Neck Cancer Can’t Silence Local Lawyer

March 22, 2017

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To see him now, you’d never know the battle Tampa attorney Buddy fought outside the courtroom. For more than 30 years, the lawyer relied on his voice to help individuals and businesses navigate the bankruptcy process, but in August 2015 a stage 4 throat cancer diagnosis almost silenced his career.

Shock settled in when physicians told Ford that the survival rate was less than three years even with the recommended surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

After meeting a head and neck cancer survivor at a support group, Ford opted to take part in a clinical trial that included personalized radiation and forgo the surgery and chemotherapy.

After 42 radiation treatments for his neck and throat, Ford learned the cancer spread to his lung, abdomen and lymphatic system.  

Ford is one of the approximately 50,000 Americans diagnosed with head and neck cancer every year. Common risk factors include alcohol and tobacco use as well as the HPV virus.

Signs and symptoms of head and neck cancer can often go unnoticed and include:

  • Lump or swelling in neck
  • Ear pain
  • Trouble swallowing or chewing
  • Hoarseness of voice or vocal changes 

A head and neck cancer screening is a simple, quick procedure in which the doctor looks in the nose, mouth, and throat for abnormalities and feels for lumps in the neck. If anything unusual is found, the doctor will recommend a more extensive exam.

As for Ford, he gained back the weight he lost, is back to work and feels better than he did before the cancer diagnosis. He goes back to Moffitt every six months for a PET scan, which has been clear for the past nine months.

April is Head and Neck Cancer Awareness month and Moffitt Cancer Center is holding free head and neck cancer screenings on April 7 from 8 a.m. to noon. Learn more about the event.