Steve Glaser – Throat Cancer Patient Story

Steve Glaser – Throat Cancer

I had been experiencing persistent chest pain and a sore throat for more than two months when I found myself in the office of Dr. David E. Wood, an ENT affiliated with UPMC Horizon. I was honestly surprised when he told me I had throat cancer. A biopsy performed by Dr. Seungwon “Steve” Kim at the UPMC Eye and Ear Institute at UPMC Presbyterian confirmed that my particular cancer was caused by the Human papillomavirus (HPV).

Dr. Kim referred me to radiation oncologist Dr. Raymond Wynn at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at UPMC Horizon so that I could undergo radiation treatment close to my home in Mercer, Pa. I had daily 15 minute radiation treatments, as well as three weekly chemotherapy treatments from Dr. William Spielvogle, also at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at UPMC Horizon. Since the radiation was directed at my throat, Dr. Jon Henwood, a surgeon at UPMC Horizon, surgically inserted a feeding tube in case I had trouble eating but it turned out that wasn't necessary. Although I experienced the typical burns on my skin, I was able to continue to eat during my radiation treatments. I did lose my salivary glands and taste buds, though, which I learned are common side effects of my treatment. Although not the cause of my cancer, I also quit my 30 year smoking and drinking habits.

I finished my treatment on May 17, 2012. Even though the daily radiation was difficult, I would tell the nurses a joke after every treatment session. They see a lot of difficult things in their career in any given day and they deserve a laugh. Telling jokes and lifting their spirits was a way for me to lift my spirits.

I'm so thankful to my nurses and doctors, and especially to my family and my friends who supported me physically and emotionally through my ordeal. As a way of giving back, my wife Maxine and our family participate in the annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life event at Buhl Park in Hermitage.