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Patient Stories

Hospitality at a Hospital

Jason’s Throat Cancer Care

Jason considers himself an expert chef – and for good reason, with a lifetime working in the restaurant industry his tastes, and reputation, are well established. He knows, equally well, that personal care matters. Feeling loved, feeling cared for, is of intangible value. When stage IV squamous cell carcinoma of the throat threatened to take away his everyday, Jason would find the treatment to save his life – and the care he craved – at Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

After receiving his diagnosis and undergoing a neck dissection, a friend of Jason’s recommended he go to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for his next round of treatment. Shortly after, Jason met his new team.

“It was life changing,” Jason said. “I got personalized, specific care. All the people I would talk to I met from the get-go: This is the team that will be working with you, they’ll meet every Monday and talk specifically about your case. This is your head nurse, this is your oncologist, your radiologist, your doctor for check-ups. Everything was so dynamic in a way that made me feel like I was being cared for.”

Stage IV squamous cell carcinoma is the most advanced form of throat cancer; while treatable, it can cause complications affecting the ability to swallow, eat and speak. Before arriving at Northwestern Medicine, doctors removed Jason’s left tonsil and all of the lymph nodes on the left side of his neck. His team created a treatment plan that involved a seven and a half week course of daily radiation and weekly chemotherapy.

Jason has worked in the people business for as long as he can remember. The moment his parents told him he could not work in the restaurant industry was the moment he knew he would do nothing else. While cooking has and always will be a passion, Jason quickly found his way to front-of-house, never looking back. “Everyone is born with a gift, and my gift is people. Being a maître d’, being a manager, being on the floor, making people feel good, making people feel special,” Jason said of his skillset. “I’m a people pleaser.”

Jason credits his parents with teaching him the essence of hospitality. It’s something, a quality, he’s become finely attuned to and something he immediately picked up on during his throat cancer treatment.

“Not service, but hospitality. Service is what happens to you and hospitality is what happens for you,” Jason explained. “I think the one thing that makes the biggest difference for patients at Northwestern Medicine, whether they know it or not, is the level of hospitality they receive. Obviously the facilities are so modern and the accommodations so accommodating, but really the most amazing thing I felt from the get-go was the amount of care and hospitality and love. I felt taken care of from the minute I walked in.”