Rob has lived all over the world. After spending most of his childhood in Germany and Illinois, it was his job in the transportation industry that brought him to Denver in 2002, where he settled down.
In 2008, Rob went in to see his doctor for what was supposed to be a routine checkup. He was pretty healthy, and all of his tests came back normal, but he had a swollen tonsil that he just couldn’t seem to shake. He asked his doctor to take a look, and he was prescribed some antibiotics. When those didn’t work, the doctor referred Rob to an ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist.
Rob’s ENT doctor thought it was a cancerous growth and ordered a biopsy. The results were not good – Rob had Stage 3 throat and neck cancer.
“At first, I couldn’t believe that I had cancer,” Rob says. “But then I decided to look at it as just another challenge—it was something I was just going to have to deal with, like losing a job or your house burning down or another tragedy. Instead of wallowing and being sad, I decided to look at it like, ‘What do I need to do to fix this?’”
Rob went to see Dr. Alan Feiner, an oncologist at Rose, who put him on a treatment plan of chemotherapy and radiation. Rob says that he was lucky, because he responded very well to the treatment and had very minimal side effects.
“My mom had talked to someone who had the same cancer decades ago and who never quite recovered from their surgery. When she came out visit, she thought that she was going to have to take care of me,” Rob recalls. “She was so surprised and excited to see how well I was doing. I was the one driving her around!”
After Rob finished treatment, his first MRI came back clean, and he has been in remission ever since. Today, he sees what he refers to as his “herd” of doctors every few months but says it is more for maintenance than anything else. Music has played a big part in his life and he spends his time playing the trumpet in a Denver community band and working in the transportation field.
Rob credits his own positive attitude and the support of his family, friends and partner for helping him get better.
“I tried not to have a negative attitude,” Rob says. “The nurses at the infusion center would tell other patients to come talk to me when they were having a bad day. It’s not that I was any different from anyone else there, but I honestly made a point to always have a positive outlook, and I think it really helped me.”
The Rose “Surviving Well” Calendar is a 12-month calendar highlighting our cancer services, physicians, and inspirational stories from our patients. Rob is our survivor for April.