Brian’s Story: Vocal Cord Cyst

One by one, the symptoms of a throat problem tapped on the pastor’s door. Pastor Brian Tome, leader of Crossroads Church and speaker of five weekly messages to a following of 18,000, acknowledged the symptoms and tried to dismiss them. He was frequently clearing his throat and coughing, but of course he used his voice a lot. During a motorcycle trip to Alaska, he was chronically hoarse, but of course it was an intense trip with some partying around the campfire. His voice sounded deeper, too, but that can happen to preachers as they age.

Finally, the man who used his voice to serve God and humanity knew he needed answers.

A doctor’s scope revealed a tiny cyst on his left vocal cord. Unnerved and fearful, he asked if the doctor could carve out the cyst at once. A delay ensued, and during that time Brian learned more about the delicate qualities of vocal cords and acquired a referral to the Neurosensory Disorders Center. There, further testing revealed the cause of the cyst — acid that was backing up from his stomach – and a microsurgical alternative was presented and accepted.

Using a small metal tube and microscope, the surgeon made an incision, lifted up a microflap of tissue and removed the cyst, preserving the smooth skin on the vocal cord. Following the outpatient procedure, a careful recovery began.

During week 1, Brian could not utter a word. During week 2, a stopwatch around his neck, he could speak for only 10 minutes of every hour. “We should all have this discipline,” Brian reflects. “Before speaking, I had to ask myself, is this worthy of my 10 minutes?” Normalcy returned quickly. By week six, just in time for Christmas, he was back in the pulpit, using a voice of renewal to encourage, motivate and renew.

— Cindy Starr

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Hope Story Disclaimer – This story describes an individual patient’s experience. Because every person is unique, individual patients may respond to treatment in different ways. Outcomes are influenced by many factors and may vary from patient to patient.

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