Thanksgiving came two weeks later than normal at the Craig household this year. Wednesday marked the end of my treatment plan consisting of five rounds of weekly chemotherapy and 35 rounds of radiation therapy in my battle against tongue cancer.

The thanksgiving, this year, is that the prognosis is very good.

While the diagnosis was personal, the journey and support has been communal. I could not have walked this medical path without the support and encouragement of several people. I would like to take this time to express my appreciation.

The fantastic staff at The Daily Sentinel. You may know them from their bylines, photo credits, or their voices on the phones when you call about a subscription or classified ad.

What you may not know is that they are all great people. These individuals went above and beyond their duties to encourage one of their own. The simple smiles, nods and “how are you feeling today?” helped me get through the past nine weeks.

The assistance they provided was in addition to publishing a top-notch community newspaper.

Jenniffer Ricks, publisher of the Lufkin Daily News, was only a phone call away and jumped in to help in countless ways both personally and professionally.

The calls, cards, text and prayers from family and friends were uplifting and greatly appreciated.

Finally, I would not have made it through this without my incredible wife of 38 years, Jill. She is my rock. She was there every step of the way, holding me up when I needed it and comforting me in the tough times.

I will forever be indebted to all of you for your help and prayers.

Your encouragement during treatment was inspiring and I will cherish your support as my path to healing continues.

My cancer was diagnosed only three weeks after we moved to our new home in Nacogdoches and were beginning to start our new life here. As you can imagine, that was put on hold.

Jill and I look forward to writing the new chapter of our life in Nacogdoches now that this chapter is coming to an end.

Jill has remarked several times that she knows we will enjoy Nacogdoches once we have the chance to experience it. I agree. We look forward to the many events, concerts, plays, presentations and activities.

We will also begin getting involved in this great community that made us want to come here six months ago and be a part of it.

It will be a few more months before I am fully recovered, but I truly look forward to meeting more fellow Nacogdochians in the very near future.

A very personal public service announcement:

The HPV (Human Papillomavirus) causes 31,200 cases of cancer each year. I was one of those 31,200 in 2018.

Knowing what researchers know now, this possibly could have been prevented by the Gardisil 9 vaccine. In fact, two weeks after my diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue, the FDA extended the use of Gardisil 9 to include males and females 27 through 45 years old. The vaccine has the potential of preventing more than 90% of these cancers.

While I am over the 45-year age limit, there are many in our lives that are not. If you qualify for the vaccine, please get it. Urge, encourage or demand (as I did my sons) those in our life that do qualify to talk to their physician about the vaccine.

You do not want your loved ones to go through the treatments, side effects and recovery to fight this cancer and others caused by HPV when it can be prevented.

Rick Craig is publisher of The Daily Sentinel. He can be reached at rick.craig@dailysentinel.com.

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