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As Dick Nourse's cancer treatments end, doctors expect full recovery

As Dick Nourse's cancer treatments end, doctors expect full recovery

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SALT LAKE CITY — Former KSL News anchor Dick Nourse has spent the past six weeks undergoing surgery and treatment for throat cancer. Now that the radiation and chemotherapy have come to an end, his doctors are confident of a full recovery — and Dick is ready to celebrate.

Tuesday, Feb. 12, marked Dick's 30th and final radiation treatment. "I didn't think this day would ever come," he said.

Five days a week for the past six weeks, the drill was the same: climb onto a bed, put on a special mask, and lay under a huge machine that zapped him 11 times with a beam of high-level X-rays. The procedure itself is painless, but the aftereffects certainly were not.

"Your throat is just constantly inflamed and burned. It's like a bad, bad sunburn," Dick said.

After experiencing a nagging sore throat last November, Dick was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. In his case, doctors believe a tumor on the back of his tongue was caused by a virus.

What is Squamous cell carcinoma?

Squamous cell carcinoma is a form of skin cancer. ... (it) rarely causes further problems when identified and treated early. Untreated, squamous cell carcinoma can grow large or spread to other parts of your body, causing serious complications.

Most squamous cell carcinomas result from prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Other causes include exposure to chemical toxins, human papillomavirus (HPV) and immunosuppressant drugs.


The tumor was almost as big as a golf ball. It was surgically removed, and what doctors couldn't get was then treated with radiation and chemotherapy.

"Fortunately, even though it sounds bad, that's the easiest one to cure," Dick said.

Dick has dealt with cancer three different times now. In 1980, he was treated for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Sixteen years later, it was prostate cancer. Now, at age 72, it's throat cancer — once again, 16-years later.

When he first got this most recent diagnosis, Dick said he was angry. But he said the illness has also taught him a thing or two.

"I think I learned that I still have a little bit of fight left in me. You know, I've got a lot to live for," Dick said.

That includes his wife, Debbie; his youngest son, Dayne; and a bunch of grandchildren.

In the end, Dick's final radiation treatment took about 15 minutes. Then it was high-fives and hugs all around: for Dayne, Deb, and Dick's radiation therapists, Tarali and Natalie, whom he's gotten to know quite well at LDS Hospital.

It was a good day because it was all over. But there was still one last thing to do: ring the bell.

I think I learned that I still have a little bit of fight left in me. You know, I've got a lot to live for.

–Dick Nourse

When cancer patients finish up their radiation treatments, they participate in a small bell-ringing ceremony — a ritual that goes on in hospitals and clinics all across the country. After a grueling period of treatment, the ringing of the bell is a way to celebrate and say thanks to the doctors and nurses.

Dick rang the LDS Hospital bell to a chorus of cheers from his family and the hospital staff.

During the radiation treatment, Dick lost about 20 pounds because he was on a liquid diet and couldn't taste anything. Things will get back to normal in a few weeks, and he's looking forward to diving into a big steak — but at this point, he said even a hot dog will do.

"The first thing I'm gonna do when I can taste is get three Kraut dogs and three chili dogs. Man, I'm going for it," Dick said.

While his radiation treatment has come to an end, Dick has some follow-up appointments scheduled in the coming weeks. For now, his doctors say everything looks good.


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