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Survivor Stories

Nasal Sinus Carcinoma Survivor Now a Professional Trainer & Boxer


Rob Guarino nasal sinus sarcoma survivor

Favourite quote:

“Die with memories, not dreams”

“Having cancer showed me that I have limited time on earth and I’ve made every minute of my life count since the day I was told I had cancer.”

Rob Guarino was diagnosed with nasal sinus squamous cell carcinoma in August 2017. He has successfully defeated his disease. He is a professional trainer, boxer and black belt.

The Diagnosis

“August 2017 I was told that what I thought was a cyst or ingrown hair in my nose was actually a 10 cm squamous cell carcinoma and needed to be operated on ASAP.”

The Journey

Rob Guarino nasal sinus sarcoma survivor journey

 “One day I was picking my nose and thought I found an ingrown hair or a pimple. After 2 weeks, my wife insisted that I go to an ENT. Another week later it started to bleed. My wife now took me to the local ENT. He looked at it and sent me to a specialist. The specialist looked at it and ordered an MRI and a biopsy.

It came back as a malignant squamous cell carcinoma in my sinus cavity. The only good news was that it was encapsulated and had not spread to my lymph nodes or anywhere else. 2 weeks later, I had emergency surgery and it had been taken out without any incisions. Even though I had negative margins, my team at Mount Sinai played it safe and a month later I started low dose chemo and high dose radiation to eradicate any potential remaining malignant cells.

36 treatments of radiation later, I had lost 50 pounds and couldn’t drink water without painkillers, and was only able to drink shakes with the aid of magic mouthwash. It was excruciating to say to the least. The worst pain of my life.

I started to feel human about 4 months after radiation had ended. I have since lost my sense of taste and smell, making food not enjoyable at all. My team said to give it 12-18 months to come back. And even then it won’t be back fully.

But looking back I feel like I got the best case scenario and I’m thankful for my experience.”

Motivation to fight cancer

“My wife and kids. I love life and I want to experience more and at 47 I feel like I’m too young to roll over and give up. Plus I’m a fighter by profession so I will take any challenge.”

Biggest hindrance

“Set aside the pain of radiation, the physical appearance was huge. My wife is much younger than me and the treatment had aged me and made me feel/look old, frail, and fragile. That messed with me more than losing my sense of smell and taste and also mentally ruined me for a while.”

Message to other cancer patients

Rob Guarino nasal sinus sarcoma survivor message

“Positivity. Naturally, the support of your family and friends is needed. But you also need to have a good team of doctors that you can relate to and feel comfortable with. My team of oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, nurses, and even scheduling staff were everything to me for about half a year. I was in contact with them almost every day. They should be polite and understanding. You should be treated with dignity, not as a number.

Don’t ever let it stop you from living. There may be days or moments where you feel beaten and miserable and sick but you have to keep your chin up and like a rocky movie keep on fighting and going round by round without giving up.”

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