By Nancy Hilbrands - July 19, 2022
At 49, Craig Urquhart was advancing in his career, traveling with his wife and children, and in perfect health. Life was good — until he felt a lump on his neck.
His ear, nose and throat specialist diagnosed the lump as a benign cyst. In less than a month, it quickly grew from the size of a pea to a golf ball. Doctors removed the lump and were confident it was nothing to worry about.
At his follow-up appointment in July 2020, Urquhart’s world was turned upside down. It was cancer. His doctor believed they had removed about 80% of the tumor.
The news was shocking, but Urquhart wasn’t afraid. Instead, he worried about how he would tell his family, especially his parents. They had lost Urquhart’s older sister Tammy a year earlier to cancer. At the age of 50, Tammy was diagnosed with multiple myeloma that started in her spine and spread to her brain. She was gone five weeks later.
Urquhart decided he would not tell his parents until he had more information, along with a plan, to treat his tumor. Eager for an accurate diagnosis, he immediately sought a second opinion at Moffitt Cancer Center.
"Moffitt is one of the top cancer facilities in the world. There was no question where I was going."- Craig Urquhart
“Moffitt is one of the top cancer facilities in the world,” Urquhart said. “There was no question where I was going.”
Once at Moffitt, a PET scan confirmed the cancer had not spread beyond his throat. He was diagnosed with stage 1 squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsil, which had moved to his lymph nodes. The next week, he underwent a tonsillectomy, followed by 33 rounds of radiation and five cycles of chemotherapy.
“After completing his treatment, Craig became engaged in patient support groups at Moffitt,” said Dr. Michelle Echevarria, the radiation oncologist who treated Urquhart. “He has been extremely involved in helping others, like himself, get through the very intense treatment of head and neck cancer.”
Since Urquhart’s last treatment in October 2020, he says he’s had no setbacks, has returned to exercising regularly and feels great.
“If I hadn’t come to Moffitt, my outcome most likely would have been much different,” Urquhart said.
“The team at Moffitt not only saved my life but treated me every day as if I was the only person they were caring for, which sadly I know firsthand is simply not true.”
Now, two years after learning he had cancer, Urquhart is back to enjoying vacations with his wife, Yvette, and their two children, Marshall, 14, and Mia, 12.
As an avid Tampa Bay Rays fan, he was thrilled to be honored by the team at Tropicana Field on July 16 through the Salute to Survivors program. With his family and parents by his side, it was the perfect way to celebrate the second anniversary of his cancer diagnosis: together, happy and healthy.