By RUSSELL HUFFMAN
ERATH COUNTY (August 9, 2018) – Erath County Chief Deputy Cody Keith and Sheriff Matt Coates (a few other members of the ECSO) are sporting matching haircuts that look like they are straight out of an Army basic training camp. It’s the kind of “battle dress” you wear when you are supporting someone when they are fighting a war to stay alive.
Deputy Keith is suffering from a very rare cancer known as Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma and is on his fourth chemotherapy treatment which has caused the loss of his hair. As a sign of support for his chief deputy Coates invited Keith to take a ride with him down to a local barbershop where he proceeded to get a matching look.
It’s an obvious sign of support for a man who has been bravely battling a disease that very little is known about due to its rarity and a lack of research simply because there are very few subjects to study. The biggest problem being how cancer seems to be able to spread from one part of the body to another.
The Flash Today readers were first introduced to SGT (now Captain) Keith’s medical situation in April 2016 when word was spread of his battle with Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma and a rally around him to raise money.
The disease had been present in Keith’s nasopharynx (located at the base of the skull –above the roof of the mouth) for about seven months before he began to notice numbness in his face and neck. What lay under that numbness was cancer and it was eroding away his facial nerves, tissues, bones and part of his skull.
Aggressive chemotherapy treatments were started five days a week for eight weeks in a row. The tumor began to shrink and it looked like a success story was in the making.
But Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma is tricky and later tests showed the cancer had spread but not like other cancers do.
“After my first fight cancer spread to my left cheek and in my left lung,” Keith said. “After the second and different type of treatment, cancer spread to the outside of my left lung.”
Following the newest treatment cancer then spread to the outside of Keith’s left lung and doctors still are unable to predict a pattern or explain why cancer spreads like it does. Keith’s fight has included almost 80 radiation treatments, two surgeries and four different kinds of chemotherapy.
What was once believed to be a disease that was 98-percent curable, has now turned into what Keith’s doctors are calling a “life-long fight”.
The only factor currently playing in Keith’s favor is that the cancer has only been spreading in small spots that allow doctors to apply treatments. If the cancer were to start appearing in multiple larger spots there would be little doctors would be able to do to help him.
His cancer only spreading into small areas has given Keith hope he will eventually be able to defeat cancer. He has already met with doctors at MD Anderson about clinical trials in the event his latest treatments are unsuccessful.
Life the last few years has been anything but easy. But one thing that has never faltered is the continued love and support I have received from my family, friends, and community,” Keith said.
Even with insurance, anyone can imagine the added costs associated with medical treatments like time off from work, gas to and from the Metroplex. A fund has been set up via a website established to help Keith and readers can find out more information by visiting http://codykeith.weebly.com/