Survivor: Throat Cancer
Today, Jason Rhyne’s voice is a bit raspy.
But the 44-year-old Bethalto man pays it no attention.
“If the radiation hurt my vocal cords, I’m OK, because I have a voice. I’m alive. I still get to do things I enjoy,” Jason said.
In late summer of 2015, Jason developed a lump on the right side of his throat. The lump began getting bigger, forcing him to see a doctor right after Christmas that year.
“It was about the size of a golf ball,” he said. “I was told by my primary care doctor that they’d just cut it out.”
Jason’s primary care physician sent him to Dr. Keith Bonacquisti, an ear, nose and throat specialist with OSF Saint
Anthony’s Physician Group.
“I wasn’t having a sore throat or anything. What I did have were headaches,” Jason said.
Dr. Bonacquisti used an endoscope to inspect the mass in Jason’s throat.
“I was told it was Stage 4 lymphoma. The reason I was having headaches is it was spreading to my brain,” Jason said. “I was pretty devastated that night.”
The first thing he did was quit smoking.
“Soon as I found out I had cancer, I quit. I was smoking less than a pack a day. I started when I was 21,” he said.
Jason was to undergo radiation and chemotherapy. He was referred to Dr. James Piephoff, board certified radiation oncologist, and Dr. Manpreet Sandhu, board certified medical oncologist and hematologist, both with OSF Saint Anthony’s Cancer Center of Excellence.
Jason underwent 32 sessions of radiation and three rounds of chemotherapy. His treatment was completed in mid-August of 2016.
“That was a horrible summer,” he said.
"I’m alive, and it’s fun"
An avid sports fan, outdoorsman and accomplished pool player, Jason is glad to be back to doing the things he loves.
And he’s thankful for the care he received.
“I can’t say enough about the nurses and doctors and techs. They were great,” Jason said. “Without these people at OSF Saint Anthony’s, I probably wouldn’t be here. The support they offered was totally awesome.”
When Jason was told he was cancer free, that he beat it, “I felt alive again.”
His advice for others, first and foremost, is to quit smoking if you’re a smoker. “Just quit. Today,” he said.
“When a doctor tells you something, listen, because they’re right. I got through this because I listened to the doctors,” Jason said. “If you think you’re going to die and you don’t want to try, you probably will die. If you want to live, you will. If you enjoy life like I do and want to live, you will.
“I don’t care how bad life gets, it’s still life,” he said. “I’m alive, and it’s fun.”