Sgt. Cody Keith first knew something was wrong when the left side of his face went numb. He went to a doctor who prescribed a steroid, but when the pain began to spread into his jaw and ear days later, he thought perhaps it was his wisdom teeth causing the problem.
“We made an appointment with an oral surgeon who found a small mass on the left side of his neck,” his wife Belinda said.
The couple headed to Fort Worth for a battery of tests and scans that showed Cody, a deputy with the Erath County Sheriff’s Office, has nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a rare form of head and neck cancer that starts in the upper part of the throat behind the nose.
The cancer has spread to Cody’s lymph nodes and he is undergoing an aggressive form of treatment to shrink the tumors.
In a recent telephone interview, Belinda said her husband’s treatment will include radiation five days a week for seven weeks and weekly chemotherapy for the foreseeable future.
“At some point he will have surgery,” Belinda said.
But for now, the couple, who has two young children, are focusing on getting through the daily rigors that come with life after a difficult diagnosis.
If there is any good news in this situation it’s that the family is not fighting this battle alone.
“The support we have received from the community has been amazing,” Belinda said. “People have brought us food, mowed our grass and offered to drive Cody to his treatments. We are grateful for all the help.”
This weekend, friends will host a fundraiser aimed at helping the family with rising medical expenses.
“Cody is a great guy and we know the community will rally behind this family to help them,” said family friend Christi James.
The event will be held from 6-9 p.m. Saturday at City Hall at City Limits.
There will be a barbecue dinner, live music by Mark McKinney and live and silent auctions.
Tickets will not be sold and it will be by donation only.
A few of the auction items include suite tickets to a Dallas Cowboys game, a side of beef, Big Green Egg grill and ribeye roll, jewelry, gift certificates, Yeti tumblers and a variety of gift baskets.
There is also an account set up at First Financial Bank for Keith.
Anyone who would like to donate to the auctions can call Shelley Gilliland at 965-3612.
Belinda said Cody’s spirits remain high despite the radiation treatments that have made his throat sore.
“We are doing good,” she said. “We have to believe everything is going to be ok. With two little kids, we have to keep pushing on.”