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Home > Support & Amenities > Survivor Stories > Head & Neck Cancer > David's Courageous Story
David Cahalan, a retired junior high educator now living in Williamsburg, just knew something was a little off with his sore throat.
It was August 2018. David visited a walk-in clinic and was told his sore throat was just allergies, but he knew it had to be something else. He’d never had allergies before. David was given a prescription, but the medicine didn’t seem to help.
He then visited his internist and was referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist – the very next day.
At the ENT, biopsies were taken, and a scope was done on his throat. The doctor told David and his wife, Jodi, that he had Stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma, a form of cancer, on the right tonsil.
Deciding where to receive treatment was easy. David is a longtime patient in the MedQuarter. When he had a heart attack five years ago, David said he essentially died, and the care team at Mercy Medical Center brought him back.
“I am here because of the ‘Q,’ ” he said.
MedQ – a unique urban medical community in the heart of Cedar Rapids – is home to two 2019 IBM Watson Health 100 Top Hospitals and more than 500 medical professionals providing a full range of medical care, all within 55 city blocks.
The broad spectrum of quality healthcare available within MedQ meant David could get the cancer care he needed close to home in eastern Iowa.
David and Jodi traveled from Williamsburg to the Hall-Perrine Cancer Center from September to December 2018. He had radiation treatments for seven weeks, five days a week, 15 minutes each. He also had three chemotherapy sessions, which lasted four hours each, during the same time period.
His cancer is now in remission.
David gives credit to the staff at Hall-Perrine Cancer Center for making his experience a more comfortable and positive one.
“The staff were excellent. They treated me with kindness and respect. For them, it wasn’t just a job. They knew what they were doing and acted like they wanted to be there. The staff always had smiles on their faces, and they were easy to get along with,” said David.
David was able to “ring the bell,” a treasured Hall Perrine tradition for cancer patients as they complete treatment. The ringing of the bell was in honor of all the caring people around him, including his wife and caregiver, other patients, and doctors studying and looking for cures.
These days, David is doing well and enjoying time in his woodshop, taking walks in the woods and playing with his grandchildren.
For other MedQ cancer patients still in treatment, David offers some words of wisdom: “It’s a long, difficult road, but if you listen and do what you are told to do, you will survive it. There’s nothing that’s easy, but the name of the game is to survive – and it will get better.”
From The Med Quarter, March 2019.