August 10, 2022

No signs of slowing down soon, thanks to care team

When a patient comes in for routine care, his physician — out of an abundance of concern — convinced him to remove an old mass that was found to be cancer.

Kaiser Permanente patient Hal Croulet with members of his health care team including Karen Soo, RN; Charles Tong, MD; and Christina Martinez, CST, OR.

Even at 86 years old, Harold W. Croulet Jr., better known as “Hal,” does not intend to slow down anytime soon. Thanks to the efforts of Charles Tong, MD, head and neck surgery, Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, and our integrated care delivery model, he can continue working as a greeter at Disneyland.

Croulet initially saw Dr. Tong for skin lesions. During his examination, Dr. Tong noted a lump on the back of Croulet's neck. Croulet shared that the lump had increased in size recently, and he was having difficulty extending his neck.

Surviving cancer

Although Croulet was there for a different issue, Dr. Tong urged him to pursue further workup. An MRI and needle biopsy revealed a mass that was concerning, so he agreed to have it removed. His neck mass was found to be cancerous, but it was confined to the back of the neck.  Fortunately, it was removed before it spread.

"Each day offers something memorable," says Croulet. "I enjoy being active and am grateful that I can continue to do so, thanks to Dr. Tong and the care team that took care of me."

A retired elementary school teacher with 17 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren, Croulet and his wife are now planning to take a cruise together after 50 years of marriage.

Medical excellence

"Our integrated care model was essential in Hal’s care," said Dr. Tong. "I had direct access with other colleagues from head and neck surgery, radiology, pathology, and anesthesiology, to discuss his case, which expedited his care and possibly prevented the spread of his tumor."

 Added Dr. Tong, "Hal is such an inspiration, to be doing what he’s able to do at his age and with such enthusiasm. Thankfully, we were able to provide the care he needed so that he can have many more years doing what he does best, making guests smile when they visit Disneyland."

In the United States, head and neck cancer accounts for about 4% of all cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute. Learn the risk factors and symptoms.