Shane's Story - Tongue & Neck Cancer

Tongue and Neck Cancer Patient Story
UCLA Health article

Testimonial: Tongue and Neck Cancer Surgery

“We are so grateful and truly feel blessed for having found Dr. St. John and her agreeing to be Shane’s surgeon.”

—Shane & Zelin’n

May 5, 2021

Dear UCLA,

We would like to express our deepest gratitude and commend all the efforts on our behalf by Dr. Maie St. John, MD PhD and her whole team.

In August of 2020 we learnt Shane had two cancerous growths – one in his tongue and one in his neck. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever imagine that before reaching 55, one of us would have to deal with such a prognosis. A search for possible solution ensued, and through Drs. Amanda Salvado and Julianna Pesce, with Westside Head and Neck, we learnt of Dr. Maie St. John, at UCLA.

As concerned as we were, upon meeting Dr. St. John, some of our fears were eased. Dr. St. John examined Shane, and spoke with us, knowingly and compassionately, about his prognosis and suggested plan of action. We immediately felt we had found a surgeon to whom patients are not just a number; we felt Dr. St. John recognizes that her patients are people, with families, aspirations and hopes for the future. Dr. St. John introduced us to Dr. Rhorie Kerr, MD, who also made a positive impression.

After a long surgery Dr. St. John personally met Zelin’n and put her mind at ease by letting her know the surgery went well and all the cancer cells appeared to be out; a few hours later, Dr. Kerr followed up to make sure we knew the surgery and transplants had been successful.

The next few months were of recovery and treatments; Shane underwent both chemo and radiation therapies. All along though, we knew that Dr. St. John, and her whole team were a phone call or an email away, should we have any questions.

This month, we again met Dr. St. John and received the wonderful news that no apparent cancer cells were found in Shane’s three moth PET scan. We are so grateful and truly feel blessed for having found Dr. St. John and her agreeing to be Shane’s surgeon.

If it were not for Dr. Maie St. John, Dr. Rhorie Kerr and their supporting staff, Shane would not be alive today. Thank you for giving him a second chance. Shane has a new appreciation for life: Problems that used to cast a shadow over his days have become relatively insignificant now. Time with our family are a precious gift. We now take time to enjoy each day.

With deepest gratitude,

—Shane and Zelin’n