Welcome to Kevin Merritt's Page
To my friends and business associates,
As you all know it has been 39 months since my all clear on the throat cancer. On June 9th and 10th I'll be participating in a 2-day major cycling event called The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer benefiting Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, one of the top 5 cancer research hospitals in the world. There will be close to 5000 riders participating and I will be riding as part of the Steves Cycle Paths team, a group of close to 300 riders with whom I rode last year. This team have collectively raised over $6,450,648. We need all of your help and support to continue to grow on this milestone. Last year was my second year participating and my two sons, Justin and Andrew and Andrew's father-in-law Keith Baugaard, who introduced me to the event, rode alongside me. The event was so emotional and inspiring that we decided to take on this challenge again.
This is my story, please read it and keep in mind that if you feel something wrong with your body keep investigating until you get a diagnosis and result that makes sense. You know your body!!! the system is flawed in getting to the diagnosis stage but I can vouch for the fact that once you have a diagnosis the system is incredible in getting you on the road to recovery and beating Cancer!
"I was in a meeting one day when I noticed as I was talking I was starting to have some irritation in the side of my throat. I put it down to being somewhat run down after some overseas travelling. Over the next day's it got worse and initial diagnosis was tonsillitis, something I had been prone to. Antibiotics did not cure it and I noticed it did not spread to the opposite side like previous infections. Next it was diagnosed as a root canal infection, that doctor said I should have all my root canals extracted as they can build up infections and eventually kill you! again antibiotics did not cure it. Every time I went to the doctor I complained about being able to feel something hard rubbing against the back of my tongue but it was put down to being a swollen gland. At this point I was scouring the internet to see possible causes and obviously cancer was on my mind. I woke up one morning and became extremely anxious about what had now become pain in my tonsil area every time I swallowed. I took myself down to the emergency room in the midst of an anxiety attack. The student nurse was concerned about what she saw in the back of my throat and had a doctor look at it. Diagnosis was an infection and when the doctor asked me why I was so anxious I told him I thought it was cancer. He laughed and said that's the farthest think you should have from your mind. No chance it is cancer he said, I don't fit the profile!
After months of back and forth to various doctors including an allergist I became exasperated. There was one appointment still to go and I had been waiting three months when the day came to see an ENT. He said there is some swelling but he didn't think was cancer. He asked me to consider a biopsy and I immediately responded " do it now"
Probably the most painful day of my life to that point, the biopsy was not the needle I expected but more of a paper punch that was used to take a nice chunk of tissue with me pinned to the doctors table!
I don't remember how long it took to get the results, I only remember the ENT telling me I should cancel future trips and to open the folder to read the report. First thing I saw " squamous cell carcinoma " scared me. I really did have cancer! My first question? Will I lose my hair! The ENT assured me this was curable and I would not lose much hair!
This was the time that the health care system changed from my point of view. Suddenly I was important , suddenly I was at the front of the line. Immediately I was scheduled for an MRI and further testing to see the extent of the cancer. Final diagnosis was T2N1 stage 3/4 cancer in tonsil and it had spread to a lymph node.
I was assigned to a team at Juravinski Cancer Clinic, a team that would save my life and minimize any post treatment issues. This team was fantastic! The first full day of tests and more tests we sat down and discussed all options. Laser surgery was ruled out because of the lymph node intrusion. The action plan was thirty five radiation treatments and three chemotherapies. Success and recovery would depend on me following the instructions, eating and drinking as much as possible ( mostly through a stomach tube) and satying positive throughout. To cut a long story short I made it through the treatment, limited the chemo to two treatments , endured the radiation and pain , had tremendous support from my family and friends and now am fully recovered and ready to give back!
Treatment is constantly advancing, cancers such as mine used to be killers, now they can be cured. Lets do what we can to help further advances! Thanks for your support
My Participant ID: 624373-9
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