Finding a new voice to help others

A dedicated Chrysler employee for 27 years, Leroy is a husband and proud father of three children. The 50-year-old Detroit resident works the afternoon shift so it has limited his ability to participate in too many activities, but he has enjoyed some simple things in life like bowling.

With a nagging sore throat that did not go away in 2019, Leroy decided it was time to go to urgent care to determine what the source of the problem was.

“They gave me some medicine but it wasn’t helping so my wife Sharon helped find a doctor at Henry Ford Hospital to get another opinion,” he says.

Leroy explains the sore throat was getting worse and he was coughing up blood. “My oxygen was also low affecting my ability to breathe.”

Doctors find source of sore throat

Suhael Momin, M.D., ear, nose and throat physician at Henry Ford Health, examined Leroy’s throat through endoscopy, which helps detect throat cancer through an exam of the upper digestive system. A biopsy confirmed head and neck cancer.

Samantha Tam, M. D, division head of Otolaryngology who along with Dr. Momin were co-surgeons involved in managing Leroy’s treatment, said once the cancer was diagnosed his case was presented to the Henry Ford Head and Neck Cancer tumor board, where a panel of experts discuss each patient’s cases.. “Because he had advanced cancer, he required an extensive all-day surgery requiring removal of his voice box and lymph nodes and then a free tissue transplant from his thigh to rebuild his throat.” Following extensive surgery, to ensure all the cancer was treated, Leroy also required radiation therapy.

Dr. Tam explains recovery after this treatment can be difficult. “Thankfully, we were able to place a voice prosthesis at the time of his surgery. Through the support of our experienced speech pathologists and multidisciplinary team, Mr. Hardy is now able to speak and communicate very well through his tracheo-esophageal prosthesis.”

Leroy, who unfortunately was also diagnosed with kidney cancer but had a speedy recovery thanks to treatment in July of 2023 involving robot-assisted partial nephrectomy, says despite the life-altering diagnosis and treatment he is thankful to everyone at Henry Ford Health who went above and beyond to do everything they could to help him adjust to his new world.

“They were all great,” says Leroy. “I can’t think of anything that could have been done to treat me better.”

Finding a new voice by helping others

Dr. Tam notes that head and neck cancer greatly affects a person’s ability to eat and communicate, however Leroy’s story demonstrates how with the help of an expert multidisciplinary team, someone can overcome this difficult diagnosis and thrive.

“Not only is Mr. Hardy able to get back to work, but he has also been using his new voice to improve our understanding of the experiences of patients who have been treated with head and neck cancer.”

For Leroy, it was important for him to make himself available to other head and neck cancer patients to offer support as someone who knows what they are going through.

“I have taken great pleasure in helping others in a similar situation and as a former smoker, I have a new message to tell,” emphasizes Leroy. “Don’t smoke. It takes a terrible toll on your health.”


To learn more visit Head and Neck Cancer at Henry Ford Health.
Newly diagnosed?

Contact the cancer team 24/7 by calling (888) 777-4167.


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