Checkup 13: Head and neck cancer

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Every day at work is different for Kevin McWilliams, a long time employee of Lucas Oil Products. He's always on the go and says it was uncharacteristic for him to take note of a subtle change.

"I was shaving one day and could see this knot," the 45-year-old said. "You could see where it was shaved out and, yeah, it was probably the size of a pea and did not hurt; I just knew it was there....[I was] shaving and it kind moved a bit and I just knew it was not supposed to be there."

The first doctor Kevin went to see wasn't too concerned, but Kevin persisted.

"I'm the type of person - I never see doctors; I don't believe in being sick but for some reason when I found that knot, I thought, 'I need to go get a second opinion.' I am so glad I did because if I wouldn't have done that, then I wouldn't be here today."

It's the same kind of cancer that Michael Douglas had. It's transmitted through saliva instead of blood, according to Dr. Tod Huntley with St. Vincent.

"Kevin's cancer occurred in this area of the throat which is the most common area where these originate," Dr. Huntley explained. "They also occur in the base of the tongue sometimes along the side and back walls of the throat....Because of this explosion of HPV, we are seeing cancers in people who are younger, who have less symptoms sometimes.....often just a painless lump in the the neck that has persisted for weeks."

Kevin is now cancer free and said he kept a positive attitude and kept working through his surgery - 14 rounds of chemotherapy and 56 rounds of radiation.

He said, "Work made me feel like I was still living a normal life and it made time go fast."

Now he encourages others to act when you know something with your health has changed.

"I would do it - especially if it is free. Even if I have to pay for it, I would do it because, again, I'm a non-smoker, never been a smoker and never thought I would get cancer in the neck or the throat, but it happens. But I would recommend if you have this opportunity to get screened to get checked out, I would do it."

St. Vincent is offering free head and neck screenings courtesy of Checkup 13, but there are a limited number of spots available. To register, call 1-866-U-CHECK-13 (866-824-3251) until 7:00 Tuesday night. You can also register online until midnight.