Luis Miguel: 2021-2022 Patient of the Year
Luis Miguel is 28 years old and works as an Assistant Manager of Retail for AT&T. He graduated with high honors with a BA in Psychology from the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez, and aspires to complete his studies to become a Psychologist post treatment. He relocated to New York from Puerto Rico after the devastating events of Hurricane Maria in September 2016. He currently lives in New York City with his puppy, Kanelo.
He is fun-loving, family-oriented, loves to cook, enjoys anime, plays Nintendo video games for fun, and loves to laugh. He also enjoys traveling to explore different cultural settings, as well as to taste the variety of foods available in each country. He lives life to the fullest and his advice for everyone in dealing with adversity is something his late best friend Fabiola’s saying,
“When life gives you lemons, get some mint and make an amazing mojito”.
Luis was diagnosed in March 2020, with Stage IV Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Larynx which spread to his Trachea. He sought treatment at New York City Hospital and after three rounds of Induction Chemotherapy and two additional months of Chemoradiation, the cancer on his trachea disappeared. Tragically, cancer returned to his larynx in October of last year.
Unfortunately, since this transpired during the Covid-19 Pandemic, his family in Puerto Rico were unable to travel to be with him. Then after his first round of chemotherapy, he contracted Covid-19 during the second week of March and was hospitalized. He fought every day to regain his strength and was hopeful he would be able to overcome his latest health scare.
Subsequent to his release, his team at New York City Hospital urged him to undergo immediate Salvage Laryngectomy. This procedure is both high risk and instantly life-altering, particularly for Luis whose employment relies on verbal communication. Therefore, he sought a second opinion at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC and was hopeful they might be able to recommend an alternative treatment plan.
In February 2021, his medical insurance company denied him coverage on five occasions for a new potentially lifesaving treatment plan. His MSKCC oncology team intervened on his behalf and personally contacted the drug manufacturer requesting they donate the medications he required.
Luckily, the MSKCC request was successful and Luis will begin receiving chemotherapy infusions of carboplatin every two weeks in conjunction with a more recently approved immunotherapy drug Keytruda. Luis feels blessed to have the support of his doctors and the pharmaceutical companies to ideally rid his body of this disease.
Unfortunately, treatment was no longer effective. On Feb. 16, 2022, Luis made the very difficult decision to undergo life altering Laryngectomy surgery. Surgery was successful and he is currently navigating a “new normal” in life.