Father, 43, discovers he has cancer while helping daughter, 17, revise for her GCSEs

Jonathan Jenkyn spotted a lump while helping his daughter Alice revise (Caters)
Jonathan Jenkyn spotted a lump while helping his daughter Alice revise (Caters)

A father was diagnosed with cancer after helping his daughter study for her GCSEs.

Jonathan Jenkyn, 43, was asked by daughter Alice, 17, where the lymph nodes are while revising for a biology exam in May last year.

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Pointing to his neck, Mr Jenkyn felt a “grape-sized” lump he had never noticed before.

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After making an appointment with his GP, the father-of-five from Ipswich, Suffolk, was diagnosed with oropharyngeal carcinoma on 1 August.

The disease occurs when cancer cells form in the oropharynx, part of the throat at the back of the mouth.

Chemo and radiotherapy enabled Mr Jenkyn to beat the disease, with doctors warning he would not have made it to 2020 had the lump not been spotted when it was.

Having been diagnosed with oropharyngeal carcinoma at the back of the mouth, he fed himself via a tube (Caters)
Having been diagnosed with oropharyngeal carcinoma at the back of the mouth, he fed himself via a tube (Caters)

Oropharyngeal carcinoma is a type of head and neck cancer, which affected around 11,945 new people between 2014 and 2016 in the UK, according to Cancer Research UK.

About 53,260 people are expected to develop tumours of the oral cavity or pharynx this year in the US, figures from the American Cancer Society show.

“It was literally a luck of the draw that we picked the lymphatic system to cover that evening and I’m extremely glad I helped her on that day with her schoolwork,” Mr Jenkyn said.

“Alice struggles with science, which I did quite well in, but it was pure luck we happened to be studying something that would lead to discovering the lump.

“I was demonstrating for her where the lymph nodes are in a body and pointing to my own to show her.

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“I just felt a grape-sized lump in my neck that I hadn’t noticed before.

“We had a brief discussion as to what it could be at the time and I explained that the lymph nodes can get inflamed for non-urgent reasons but I promised her I would get it checked out and its lucky I did.”

Mr Jenkyn saw his GP soon afterwards, who told him to come back if the lump grew.

“I thought it was nothing, maybe just am inflamed lymph node, but thought it would be best to get it checked out,” he said.

“I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be cancer.”

With the mass bigger just a week later, doctors took a biopsy, which led to the diagnosis.

Mr Jenkyn was put on a six-week course of weekly chemo and daily radiotherapy. He then spent four weeks recovering on a ward.

Mr Jenkyn managed to celebrate Christmas with family and friends (Caters)
Mr Jenkyn managed to celebrate Christmas with family and friends (Caters)

After a tough ordeal, Mr Jenkyn learnt he is disease-free last week.

“It was really scary, but I was given a fairly clear route to getting better and tried to keep out of my head as much as possible,” he said.

“I was told if I had not of spotted the lump I wouldn’t have seen the new year.

“It really is quite crazy a bit of revision with my daughter became the reason I survived an illness as serious as cancer.”

READ MORE: Mother discovers cancer while breastfeeding

In further good news, Alice passed her science GCSE.

“I didn't expect my revision to have such a huge effect on our lives and I feel guilty about not noticing the lump myself, but I'm so happy we found it,” she said.

“We're just happy he's okay and of course that I passed the science exam.”

Mr Jenkyn is fundraising for Ipswich hospital’s radiotherapy department, with more than £2,000 ($2,598) being collected so far.

“I can’t believe how much has been raised but everyone has been amazing, we’ve raised an amazing amount already which continues to grow and will ultimately be given to the people who essentially saved my life,” he said.

You can donate here.

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