Ama man recounts harrowing cancer fight, support that helped him through it

Glenn Singleton drove around alone in his car for two hours – thinking, contemplating and summoning strength that he wasn’t sure he had within him.

He had terrible news to deliver to his children, and he feared their reaction as much as the overwhelming fight looming before him.

“When you hear the word cancer, most people think it’s a death sentence,” the Ama man explained. “I had all kinds of feelings … how am I going to break this to my children – they’re going to think the worst.”

When Singleton returned home, his children were indeed there. He walked into the living room and delivered the news: he was diagnosed with gastric stomach cancer.

“I hurried up and told them I’d be fine, ‘just like Tony the Tiger,” Singleton said. “My children knew that phrase because whenever they’d see me in the morning, they’d ask how I’m doing and I’d say, ‘Like Tony the Tiger – I’m great.’ My way of letting them know I was alright.”

After their talk, his sons went outside. His daughter Precious remained, and Singleton’s anxiety sent his heart racing – her reaction was the one he was most worried about.

“She walked straight up to me, kissed me on the forehead and said to me, ‘Daddy, God’s not done with you yet. He’s not gonna take you away from me,’” he said.

Singleton recalled crying, not tears of sadness but of joy – he’d seen the faith his daughter had.

“She just didn’t know … she gave me the strength to fight on,” Singleton said. “It was exactly what I needed to hear.”

He received his diagnosis on July 24 of 2020 and in the approximately 2.5 years since, Singleton has endured quite literally the fight of his life. Singleton is well known around his hometown of Ama and beyond as a gifted writer and storyteller, and he often used those skills to chronicle the life and career of one of his great heroes – Muhammed Ali. Singleton would now be channeling that hero and would have to fight his illness with even greater ferocity.

Just as Ali did most often – Singleton has emerged from his battle a winner.

He’s quick to note that he in no way fought this alone. His wife, Angelina, his children, doctors, surgeons, nurses, community members, prayer groups – Singleton said his support system was the greatest a man could ever ask for. It’s exactly what he prayed for, in fact.

Not long after he received his diagnosis from Dr. Kimberly Dalmau of St. Charles Parish Hospital, the doctor called Singleton at home.

“She said she couldn’t get me off her mind and that she told her staff that she felt my spirit,” Singleton said. “That I was a good man and she called to tell me she was praying for me. She also gave me the name of a surgeon, Dr. Nathan Bolton, someone she said was a dear friend of hers.

“That meant so much to me. I got off the phone and told my wife, ‘This doctor cares about me.’ It made me feel like a different person and gave me a big lift.”

Singleton underwent chemotherapy to treat his cancer. He also needed to have his entire stomach surgically removed, something that would alter things for him obviously but still allow him to live a normal life.

He lost a tremendous amount of weight due to his circumstances and tried to prepare his family members for what was coming, among them his granddaughter.

“I sucked in my face to kind of show her … I said that grandpa’s going to get real small,” he said. “She told me I was silly and that she didn’t care how small I got, as long as God didn’t take me from her.”

That was another emotional moment.

“I prayed to God – you heard it, from the mouth of babes. Just don’t take me from her. Don’t let this be stage 4. Don’t give me stage 4, and I’ll fight the rest. I give myself to you,” he said.

Soon, he got the news he was looking for. It wasn’t stage 4. This would be hard to beat, but not impossible – the cancer was treatable.

“I jumped up and started doing the Ali Shuffle,” Singleton said. “I knew then it was time to fight.”

When it came time for surgery, Singleton knew he was in good hands – Bolton and he developed a strong rapport, brotherly love as Singleton noted, and he knew the doctor capable. Bolton delivered.

“I saw the compassion he had about my case,” Singleton said. “It was like a calm spirit came over me. I asked God to bless me with the best, most compassionate doctors, and that’s what I had.”

He said that his treatment St. Charles Parish Hospital, Ochsner’s main campus and the Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center was A-plus and he couldn’t give a higher recommendation. Ditto for another key doctor who Singleton credits with helping to save his life, Dr. Ryan Griffin of Ochsner.

“When I walked into the infusion center for my chemo, I felt the love and care. They want to hear how you’re doing, and they greet you with hugs,” he said. “They have so much love and compassion.

“To go through this, you have to be strong. But having the support and love from people that I had … that’s what gives you the strength to carry on.”

 

 

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