Mayfield Principal Richard Lowe his on a road to recovery after taking a leave of absence in mid-March to receive seven weeks of radiation and chemotherapy treatment to combat possible skin cancer.

“I did two chemos and like 42 radiation treatments (at the Markey Cancer Center in Lexington),” he said. “I finished up in early May. The rest of it’s just been healing from the treatment. That stuff is so rough on you, especially the radiation. It’s been really hard on me as far as all my systems getting back.”

A biopsy of a lymph node removed from Lowe’s neck found squamous cell carcinoma — the second most common cancer of the skin.

More than 250,000 new squamous cell carcinomas are diagnosed every year in the United States.

Although doctors removed his tonsils and performed several other tests, they never discovered the origin of the cancer cells.

“I’ve been going in (to work) just about every day,” Lowe said. “I’m not quite back to 100 percent, but I really have been making a lot of improvements. I just feel really blessed that I’ve been healing up as fast as I have. I can think to about just a couple of weeks ago when things were still rough.”

“I’ve had two scans and my doctors have given me a clean report,” he said.

Lowe, who lost some hair on the back of his head, said he also lost 32 pounds, about seven of which he has gained back.

His salivary glands also are not back to normal, Lowe said.

“You take that for granted until you start chewing,” he said. “When you don’t have saliva producing, then you really have to chew a lot and take a lot of water. If the food has a lot of fluid in it, like cucumbers and fruit, I generally don’t have any trouble with it.”

Lowe still is using a feeding tube until he can reach a certain amount of calorie intake by mouth.

“The big thing is that my energy level is not back to snuff,” he said. “I feel like I can do so much, but then if I try to overdo it, it breaks me down a bit. So, my wife and my teachers are always like, ‘Go home.’ I’m just used to kind of going, going, going, and I’ve had to slow down a little bit.”

Since the summer began, Lowe has been working through lunch and going home in the early afternoon.

Although he was still on leave, Lowe made sure to come back to school for the final two days of the year.

“I really had to see my fifth-graders before they moved on to middle school,” he said. “I went through the awards day with them. I got to sit down with each one of them and talk with them individually.”

Lowe said he expects to be back up to speed and his usual high-energy self by the first day of school in August.

“I think it was more than I could have imagined,” he said about the treatment. “But, with my prayers and the prayers of others, God got me through it. It could have been a lot worse.”

Bryan Marshall can be reached at bmarshall@richmondregister.com or 624-6691.

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