Scott’s Story

Site created on October 11, 2019

I lost my Dad to cancer nearly 8 years ago, and now it's my turn to fight.  We're using this CaringBridge website to share updates and ask for help.  Thanks for stopping by.

Newest Update

Journal entry by Scott Clifthorne

Dear Friends,

Between the pandemic, virtual school, and a kiddo with a broken wrist, we completely neglected to share that the time had come for my newest surgical adventure: thyroplasty.


First, let me share the best news, which is that all the visual scans of my vocal folds continue to come back cancer free. I have many more years of scans to look forward to...but things continue to look good.

But. My voice. For those of you that have heard me speak recently, you may have noticed there are days and times when my voice is pretty loud and easy to hear...and other times when I’m barely able to make sound. The “why” of that variation has everything to do with the amount of space between my vocal cords. Before cancer tossed a wrecking-ball through my right vocal fold, my vocal cords worked a lot like yours (probably) work: I was able to bring my cords together and cause them to vibrate against one another, producing sound. But that’s a struggle now.  Thyroplasty is a procedure designed to manually narrow my airway so that my vocal cords can make contact/close, which in turn will enable me to produce more, deeper sounds for longer periods of time. 

The procedure itself is...wild. Because the surgical team is trying to improve my voice, the surgery is performed while the patient (me) is fully awake and speaking. If you’re interested in the details, I’m happy to share...but it’s a little gruesome. Let’s just say that I _don’t_recommend staying awake while someone cuts your throat...but i _do_ appreciate all the help and support I received from Dr. Giliberto and his whole team during the procedure. The end result: I now have a little chunk of gortex implanted in my throat that is doing a great job at pushing over my paralyzed right vocal cord.

...and while they failed to make me sound _just_like_ Sean Connery, the implant will certainly allow me to produce better sound than I have in over a year. Which is very exciting. It will be at least a few weeks before we’ll really know what my “new” voice will sound like. For now, I’m on mandatory voice rest (see button in pic) and a few weeks of no lifting anything over 10lbs. 

SO - after a one night stay at the hospital (my first night sleeping away from home in over a year), I’m now back in Olympia and resting. As long as healing goes well, stitches will come out next week, and I won’t have any more hospital procedures until my next cancer check later this autumn. 

Big thanks to my family for two days of virtual school and child care! And to our friends Nick and Tiina who dropped everything to go buy an emergency supply of Throat Coat tea and deliver it to the hospital in Seattle (I forgot to bring my own)! And to our friends Cedrus and Hilary who helped distract our youngest from his worries by hosting him for a social distant hangout during the procedure! We are soooo grateful for our community.

And biggest thanks of all to my amazing partner Sarah, who continues to love me better than I ever imagined possible. 

<<Picture (clockwise) is of Scott’s new button, Scott’s overnight luxury suite, Scott and Sarah waiting at the hospital pharmacy, and Nick on emergency tea delivery service.>>

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