HealthLeader

An Online Wellness Magazine produced by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)

A Place to Call Home

How one clinic is navigating cancer patients through the complex health care system — and helping them survive

Sharon Norman of Baytown, Texas, had too much time go by before receiving her diagnosis. In spring 2012, she noticed she was losing a lot of weight and her voice was hoarse. Yet she bounced from doctor’s office to doctor’s office in her town, sometimes undergoing the same test, not getting answers. 

After several months, she finally received a diagnosis of stage four cancer on her larynx (voice box). One of her local doctors performed a tracheostomy so she could breathe easier with her tumor. However, the procedure was performed incorrectly, as the opening created on her trachea (windpipe) was too far down. This caused further problems for Norman, so she was referred to ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon Etan Weinstock, M.D., from the ENT clinic at Harris Health System’s Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Houston, Texas. 

To repair and preserve Norman’s windpipe, Weinstock removed her tracheostomy tube and treated the cancer on her larynx with chemotherapy and radiation. With Weinstock’s advice, Norman elected to use a non-surgical approach to have the best functional outcome after treatment. 

From the moment she met Weinstock and the clinic team, Norman sensed something was different. For once, she felt calm.

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