Jamestown man continues battle with laryngeal cancerIt’s been a difficult road these past two years for Jerome Cichos of Jamestown. In 2010, Cichos, 66, had to have his larynx (voice box) removed via laryngectomy after doctors discovered cancer in that part of his throat. Doctors indicated that the eight-hour procedure and treatment thereafter were successful, giving him a relatively clean bill of health.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
It’s been a difficult road these past two years for Jerome Cichos of Jamestown.
In 2010, Cichos, 66, had to have his larynx (voice box) removed via laryngectomy after doctors discovered cancer in that part of his throat. Doctors indicated that the eight-hour procedure and treatment thereafter were successful, giving him a relatively clean bill of health.
However, about six months later, Cichos was having complications in the same area of his throat, at which time doctors then discovered that additional cancer cells had returned and metastasized.
Now he and his wife, Judy, are traveling to Fargo for Jerome’s radiation and chemotherapy treatments every Monday through Thursday for a period of five weeks.
He receives radiation treatment twice a day and chemotherapy once per day.
“He’s trying to be optimistic and doctors certainly are as well,” said Wayne Deery, Jerome’s cousin, who spoke on behalf of the Cichos family for this story.
According to the American Cancer Society website, it estimates there will be more than 12,000 new cases of laryngeal cancer in 2012 and more than 3,500 deaths in 2012 resulting from the disease.
The recovery for patients suffering from laryngeal cancer varies by patient, as does the possibility of reoccurrence, according to Trish Cavanaugh, section chief of speech pathology at San Francisco (Calif.) VA Medical Center.
“The radiation therapy will be used to clear the field around where the larynx was removed,” she said. “In 17 years working here, I have seen patients cured, but have also seen reoccurrence after as soon as six months or as long as nearly five years.”
Jerome was a rural mail carrier here locally for 38 years and also delivered The Forum from Fargo back to Jamestown for many years.
Jerome and Judy have three grown sons in their 30s and 40s — Jay, Jef and Jon — and two grandchildren.
Jerome’s battle with the disease has been difficult on Judy as well.
“She’s such a trooper, though,” Deery said. “She’s been staying positive about it as best she can and ever since Jerome’s first surgery, she’s had to train herself to help take care of Jerome.”
With Jerome’s larynx removed, there exists a hole in his throat that is very sensitive and must be properly taken care of.
Deery said Jerome’s voice is quite soft these days, almost like a whisper sometimes.
“He mouths things a lot, but you can understand him. You might just have to pay a little closer attention,” he said.
Cavanaugh said that while a patient’s voice can never really completely go back to the way it once was before having such an invasive surgery, she has seen cured patients go on to have successful careers that heavily involve speech.
“There have been patients who are courtroom lawyers and college lecturers that have continued in their profession,” she said.
To help cover Jerome’s medical expenses, the cost of lodging in Fargo and travel expenses going back and forth from Jamestown, Deery and family friend Connie Beckman are helping lead the effort to hold a benefit on Jerome’s behalf.
“Jerome worked out on our farm and was a part of me and my husband’s wedding in 2010,” Beckman said. “The first time I met Jerome and shook his hand, you could just tell how much of a kind and caring person he is.”
Deery said Jerome’s stubborn nature initially did not want anyone to hold such a benefit, but hearing about the efforts Deery, Beckman and others have put into organizing it has helped change his mind.
“He’s happy that we’re doing this and that things are going well with putting this together,” Deery said.
Through some recent community donations, friends and family were able to present Cichos with a $1,000 check on Sunday as an early gift.
“We’re a large family, and one thing I’ve learned is that we all come together when something like this arises,” Deery said.
The “I Care, Jerome Chicos Benefit” is planned from 5 to 7 p.m. June 6 at the Knights of Columbus in Jamestown. There will be a potato bar with chili, silent auction, door prizes and bake sale.
Tickets are $10 per person and kids tickets are a freewill offering. Tickets are available at the KC Hall or at the door.
Those that cannot attend and would like to make a donation are encouraged to mail donations to I Care Jerome Cichos Benefit, c/o Bank Forward, PO Box 850, Jamestown, N.D., 58402-0850.
For more information, contact Beckman at 701-320-0257.
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org