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Henry Sinopoli – Epiglottis Cancer Patient Story

Henry Sinopoli – Epiglottis Cancer

In October 2013, while lecturing to his class at La Roche College, Henry noticed a strange symptom – he couldn't hear his students on his right side; he had lost his hearing. Even stranger, two days later, he lost his voice. Henry's PCP referred him to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor who performed an endoscopy, a non-invasive procedure in which the doctor inserts a tube with a light and camera on the end into the throat.

”He said, 'Henry, you have cancer,' and I swear I thought my life was over,” says Henry.

Henry had developed a carcinoma on his epiglottis, a flap that sits at the top of a person's larynx and guards the opening between the vocal chords. When swallowing, the epiglottis directs food to the esophagus.

Henry's ENT referred him to a UPMC specialist in Pittsburgh, who confirmed that surgery to remove the lesion would be risky and could cost him his voice – and his teaching career. The specialist suggested medical and radiation treatment and referred him to a Pittsburgh colleague. Henry was prepared to begin daily treatments in Pittsburgh when he learned that the same treatments were available at Butler Health System Medical and Radiation Oncology, in partnership with UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

In November 2013, Henry began 32 radiation treatments with Hung-Chi Ho, MD; and four chemotherapy sessions with Rushir J. Choksi, MD, at Butler Health System.

“In my 68 years of interacting with medical specialists I have never met such professional, compassionate people,” says Henry. “Each doctor, his assistants, and office staff took the time to patiently listen to me, explain every perspective of their part of the treatment, answer questions, and provide education as to what to expect to lessen my anxiety.”

Henry has completed treatment and is back in the classroom. His doctors are optimistic about his outcome.

“God willing, and with continued monitoring by such a great team, I will remain cancer-free.”