In late 2013, Jim Holland went to multiple doctors. Frustrated, he wanted to remedy a sore throat that wouldn’t go away. Finally, It was a visit to an ENT that revealed what Jim was dealing with: laryngeal, or larynx, cancer. In the beginning, Laryngeal Cancer develops when cells form in the tissue of the larynx, located in the throat. The more common name for Laryngeal Cancer is throat cancer. Ultimately, Laryngeal Cancer was what led to the removal of Jim’s larynx. The larynx is also known as the voice box.

Laryngeal Cancer and a Lost Voice

Quickly, Jim began both chemotherapy and radiation treatments for his Laryngeal Cancer. During the course of treatments, Jim had to have his larynx removed. The larynx houses the vocal cords. Therefore, Jim no longer has a normal voice. Now, his voice is no higher than a faint whisper.  

His wife Kathy has become his voice. Communicating for Jim, she states that Cancer Services of Gaston County offered help in the midst of his Laryngeal Cancer treatments.  Jim knew all along that he wanted to volunteer to help others like him who were battling cancer.  He met a volunteer, Beverly Washington, who influenced Jim to join in the Bingo game that Cancer Services hosts.  Mr. Holland took advantage and instantly began to feel he was where he “belonged.”  

Finding His Voice

Without a normal voice, Laryngeal Cancer made Jim feel “like an outsider.”  Jim couldn’t engage in simple conversations with others. Being able to simply be in the presence of others who were going through cancer treatments gave him a community in which he belonged. Consequently, a bond was created without words. He had found a community that understood what words could not convey. 

As someone who loves to make others happy, Jim started using his woodworking skills to create various gifts for patients at the Cancer Services center.  In a whisper, Jim joyfully says “when they’re happy, I’m happy.”  Well acquainted with loneliness, Jim finds his calling in helping others to not feel lonely. It was this, finding solace in helping others, that has become the medicine for his soul.

Fighting Laryngeal Cancer By Giving

In the end, even with the loss of his voice, Jim’s ability to give has been what has kept him going. Soberly, both Jim and Kathy advise others to“pray” and “ take one step at a time.”

The Battle Cry

“Never slowing down” and “never giving up” were the mantras that have kept Jim going. As Kathy intercedes for Jim’s inability to communicate, she reminds others that “God loves you. There are people in this world that love you, and will help you.” 

Jim and Kathy’s Advice

Just as Jim and Kathy have been, they champion others in the midst of their suffering to “be strong and courageous.”