University of South Florida

Grateful Patient Series: USF physicians treat ENT cancer for car enthusiast


Allen Parent sees something beautiful in faded muscle cars. A 1965 Pontiac GTO is his current rehab project.

All that had to be put on hold when the retired machinist discovered a lump on the left side of his neck in late 2018.

Mr. Parent, of Brookville, Fla., was diagnosed with squamous cell mouth cancer, a head and neck cancer, and referred for treatment to Tapan Padhya, MD, USF Health department chair of Otolaryngology, and Matthew Mifsud, MD, a USF Health head and neck surgeon and otolaryngologist.

Allen Parent near his current rehab project, a 1965 GTO.   Photo by Allison Long | USF Health

About four percent of all cancer cases diagnosed in the United States each year involve the head and neck, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. This year, head and neck cancer will affect an estimated 66,630 people.

To treat Mr. Parent’s cancer, Dr. Mifsud had to remove parts of his left mouth and jaw. He reconstructed the jaw with muscle, bone and tissues taken from Mr. Parent’s right leg. The result left him with noticeable cosmetic deformities.

“There was a big lump (of tissue) hanging,” said Mr. Parent, adding, “you catch it in zippers.”

Allen Parent before his surgery with Julia Toman, MD. Photos courtesy of Dr. Toman








Mr. Parent after his surgery Dr. Toman. Photos courtesy of Dr. Toman

Dr. Mifsud said that while many cancers and their scars can be covered up with clothing, “You can’t hide cancers of the head and neck.”

To deal with the visible loose tissue, Dr. Mifsud recommended that Mr. Parent see Julia Toman, MD, a USF Health facial plastic surgeon, in 2020 after Mr. Parent had finished his cancer treatments. She was able to repair the loose tissue and make his face appear more symmetrical.

“To be able to do procedures that allow people to be seen on the outside the way they feel on the inside really affirms people’s quality of life,” Dr. Toman said.

“They both (Drs. Mifsud and Toman) did a great job and I am appreciative for everybody that was involved,” Mr. Parent said.

Allen Parent is grateful for his treatment by Drs. Mifsud and Toman. Photo by: Allison Long | USF Health

Now that his more than two-year-journey with cancer is completed, Mr. Parent is planning trips on his beloved Harley Davidson.

“If you have cancer, it’s not the end of the world,” said Mr. Parent, 69. “The best thing to do is just look at the positive side of things cause, there’s always a brighter day ahead.”

Watch the video above to learn more about Mr. Parent’s journey.

Dr. Matthew Mifsud

Dr. Julia Toman


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