A stubborn sore throat and swollen glands sent Charles (Chip) Bush of Bay City to his doctor a year ago. He felt better with treatment, but noticed that one gland was still larger than normal.
“After a month, I went back to my doctor, who recommended a biopsy,” Bush said. The tissue sample from his gland revealed small cell carcinoma, a fast-growing type of cancer.
A local oncologist recommended chemotherapy and radiation, but Bush was very concerned about the effects of treatment. “A friend who went through that and had trouble eating and lost 40 or 50 pounds,” he said. “I weigh 145 pounds and struggle to keep weight on. I can’t imagine holding up a 900-pound motorcycle if I only weighed 100 pounds.”
When another doctor recommended Otolaryngologist Philip Harris, M.D., of MidMichigan Physician Group’s ear, nose and throat practice, Bush was hopeful. “Dr. Harris was willing to get it taken care of as soon as possible, but the biggest thing was his attitude and willingness to give me alternatives,” he said.
After examining Bush, Dr. Harris was confident that he could remove all the cancer surgically. After that, he would see Bush regularly to monitor his condition. Radiation treatment could only be done once on the delicate tissues of the neck. They would still have the option to use it if cancer returned.
“I felt that Dr. Harris wanted to give me the possibility of having long-term quality of life,” Bush said.
Once they agreed on the plan, Dr. Harris scheduled Bush’s 4.5 hour procedure for the following day – a Saturday – at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland.
“The staff at the Medical Center were very cordial and helpful, and the care was very good,” said Bush. “They really went above and beyond to provide great surgical care, especially scheduling my surgery on a Saturday. I spent two nights recovering in the hospital and then went home.”
Bush had monthly follow-up visits for a year and now, in his second year, sees Dr. Harris every other month. “If we hit the two year mark and nothing’s come back, we’re probably out of the woods,” he said.
In addition to confirming no reccurence of the cancer, the visits address every aspect of his recovery. “He notices everything,” said Bush. “One time, he looked at me and said, ‘What’s the matter with your shoulder?’ We hadn’t noticed it, but the minute I walked in the door he saw there was something wrong. He had me go to physical therapy for a couple of weeks, and now I have all the strength and range of motion in my shoulder back.”
Bush says he is 100 percent recovered from the surgery. “I don’t have any issues swallowing or any paralysis in my face or neck. There was some numbness on the side of my face, but all the feeling has returned. This year, among other things, I put a couple hundred miles on my motorcycle and taught my grandson how to snow ski.”
Dr. Harris saved not only his life, Bush says, but also his quality of life. “I can’t say enough about his skills, attitude and compassion. He’s just a down-to-earth, nice guy, who is concerned about me being able to do the things I want to do down the road.
Those who would like information about Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist Philip Harris, M.D., or his colleague David Roden, M.D., may visit www.midmichigan.org/doctors. Drs. Harris and Roden have offices in Bay City, Midland and Gladwin. To schedule an appointment, call (989) 839-6201.