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5 months ago Hammond

Larger Than Life, Stronger Than Cancer

When Ponchatoula native Donald Burton’s heart stopped beating at just a few days old, the two-pound preemie was airlifted to New Orleans where he was revived. Today, the 43-year-old police force lieutenant is still beating the odds with a presence and heart that are larger than life.

“God saved my life when I was a baby,” says the Ponchatoula police officer. “I knew He wanted to keep me here for a purpose, so I try to honor Him by being a strong person in every way.”

Donald faced another challenge in 2018 when he went to North Oaks ENT Dr. D’Antoni Dennis in Hammond with what he thought was a simple sinus issue. Both were shocked when Dr. Dennis discovered that the cause of Donald’s nosebleed was a nasal carcinoma tumor.

“I had been the picture of health for so long that it was hard to hear I had cancer, but I was so thankful Dr. Dennis could walk over to Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in the next building to get my treatment plan started,” said Donald.

“I had been the picture of health for so long that it was hard to hear I had cancer, but I was so thankful Dr. Dennis could walk over to Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in the next building to get my treatment plan started,” said Donald.

After several rounds of intense chemo, Dr. Kos Kovtun, a Mary Bird Perkins radiation oncologist, used the facility’s powerful and precise linear accelerator to target Donald’s tumor with radiation treatments. Today, scans show that the cancer is not only gone, but the affected bone near Donald’s brain has also started to regenerate.

Everyone in Donald’s life is overjoyed at his promising outcome, as he has always been one to give back selflessly. A heroic act of service became public in 2017 when he was off-duty and performed lifesaving CPR on his neighbor’s almost three-week-old infant.

“They knocked on my door in the middle of the night and just kept saying, ‘She’s not breathing, she’s not breathing.’ So I grabbed the baby, placed her in my lap, started CPR and began praying. Thankfully, she started coughing and her airway cleared,” recalls Donald. “I didn’t do anything anyone else wouldn’t have done. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. God had me there so I could help.”

Even though he lost 70 pounds during treatment, today Donald remains strong, while continuing to look for ways to help others and crediting his healing to something – and someone – much larger than life.

“I’m learning that every day is a day of recovery, even after treatment is over,” says Donald. “I don’t know what else God has in store for me to do for Him, but I’m ready.”

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Hammond offers patients access to advanced radiation technology to treat cancer. Learn more by visiting marybird.org/hammond or call (985) 542-5000 to schedule an appointment.

  • 43-year-old Ponchatoula native Donald Burton has been beating the odds and proving his strength since before he was born.
  • In 2018, he was diagnosed with a rare cancer, and received advanced radiation treatments at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Hammond.
  • Harvard-trained radiation oncologist Dr. Kos Kovtun treated Donald using advanced radiation technology, the linear accelerator.
  • A couple of years ago, the police officer became a hometown hero when he performed lifesaving CPR on his neighbor’s three-week-old baby.