In 2010, dizzy spells combined with a lump in his neck made Kim decide to see an ENT (Ear Nose and Throat doctor). He had an aspirated fine needle biopsy, which came back not cancerous but his doctor still thought it looked suspicious so he referred Kim to a pathologist. Three additional fine aspiration needle biopsies later, the results came back positive- this time for squamous cell carcinoma. His first reaction was, “Let’s go fight this thing,” Kim said. “I was very upbeat and anxious.”
The first step in Kim’s treatment was a surgery, followed by radiation and chemotherapy. The treatment process was a painful time for him. “I had to get a feeding tube, which was really depressing. I lost 50 pounds during the treatment,” Kim recalled. “It was two years before I could taste food again.”
Kim’s diagnosis was also hard on his family. They were worried and afraid, in part because they felt they didn’t have enough information on what was going on in the process. The battle took a toll on Kim’s wife, who even broke out in shingles from the constant worry and stress.
Kim says he felt many frustrations during his cancer journey, dealing with finances and insurance companies and gathering the necessary information to understand his diagnosis.
“Just before I was diagnosed, the economy was really bad and business was horrible. I changed insurances to be a cheaper insurance just one month before I was diagnosed,” Kim explained.
Financial burdens also weighed heavy during Kim’s cancer treatment. The seemingly never-ending circle of places wanting money and not having the ability to work to bring in income was difficult.
MyLifeLine.org gave Kim the avenue to vent about his frustrations and feelings, give updates on progress and share pictures. “It helped me out immensely. It helped my family and friends try to understand what I was going through, which was important to me,” Kim recalled.
After experiencing cancer himself, Kim thinks cancer needs to be talked about from a personal perspective. He has also been a mentor for his brother who was later diagnosed with the same type of cancer.
“No matter how much you say, people who have never had it themselves will never understand completely what it is all about. You can hear a lot about it, you can watch someone go through it, but unless you have it and deal with it every day - mentally, physically and spiritually, you won’t know,” Kim explained.
His advice for people facing a similar experience is to try not to look too far ahead and take things one day at a time.