When 64-year-old Dennis Nigon struggled for two weeks with a sore throat, he never imagined he would be diagnosed with cancer a few weeks later.
Nigon didn’t think anything serious of his sore throat. But as it continued to persist, he decided to go in for tests, and he’s grateful that he did.
After receiving negative results for a strep test, Nigon scheduled a visit with his primary care physician who prescribed him with amoxicillin. When the antibiotic didn’t have any effect, his physician ordered a CT scan of his neck. The results of the CT scan were devastating. Nigon had four tumors in his neck region – two the size of golf balls and two the size of dimes.
Nigon was immediately scheduled to see Dr. Eric Moore, a head and neck surgeon at Mayo Clinic, where he received the news that he had tonsillar squamous cell carcinoma. “It is impossible to explain how you feel when you’re told you have grade 4 cancer, and you need to take care of it now; it literally takes your breathe away,” Dennis remembers.
Dr. Moore recommended that Nigon undergo transoral robotic surgery to remove one of the golf ball size tumors and surgically remove the other three tumors along with his lymphatic system. Transoral robotic surgery is a new robotic procedure performed through the mouth (transorally) to treat cancers of the tongue base and tonsils. Mayo Clinic is one of the few medical centers in the United States offering this surgery.
“As I learned more about the Davinci robot I knew this was a marvelous expedient procedure,” he says, “the minute I met Dr. Moore, I knew I was in great hands. To me, he is a gift from God.”
Within three days of being diagnosed, Nigon had successful surgery to remove the tumors and his lymphatic system. He had to continue to fight the cancer with chemotherapy and radiation for a year after the surgery, and today he is cancer free with a positive outlook on life.
Nigon is a man of faith and credits God, Dr. Moore and his Mayo Clinic team for his recovery, “God is good, and I’m so lucky to live in Rochester and have access to Mayo Clinic.”