Team ENT Brings Life-Changing Cancer Care to Guatemala in “Most Challenging Mission Yet”

February 29, 2024

While Operation International’s Team ENT has always provided life-changing medical care, the team’s missions have evolved over the years to focus on those with the greatest needs–thus ensuring the greatest impact.

Founded more than a decade ago by Shawn Ciecko, MD, FACS and Marcia Levine, MSN, RN, NE-BC, the team has morphed their care from general, ENT, head, neck, and plastic surgery cases, to focusing on head and neck cancer care.

“We have been able to refine our mission to help those that have the worst problems,” said Dr. Ciecko.

The team’s 2024 mission to Guatemala, their eighth time in the country, was no different.

After screening hundreds of patients for care, the team scheduled dozens of major head and neck surgical cases. The vast majority of procedures were thyroid, parotid, and head and neck cancer, many of them recurrent.

“This will prove to be one of the most challenging missions yet given the large volume of cancer,” Dr. Ciecko said.

By the end of their mission, the team had completed more than 60 successful procedures. Plus, they provided education to medical students on head and neck surgery. These cases, no matter their severity, were life changing for the patients who traveled from near and far to access the free medical care. Let’s learn about some of the people who benefitted from this exciting mission.


Rosario is a 69 year old woman who made a long journey to Team ENT’s clinic. After traveling by bus overnight for more than 10 hours, Team ENT was able to successfully remove a strikingly large thyroid mass from the right side of Rosario’s neck.

Rosario recovered overnight and was back up the next day, ready to make the long journey home.


Ishoa is a 9 year old boy who was treated by Team ENT for a painful bump on the back of his head.

While treating Ishoa, the team learned some fun facts about the young boy. His favorite animal is a lion, his favorite food is chocolate cake, and his favorite football player is Messi!

After a successful procedure with Team ENT, Ishoa is back to being a kid.


Gladis is a 33 year old mother of a 6 month old baby. She sought care from Team ENT to remove a thyroid mass.

After a speedy recovery, Gladis was eager to return to her family with a new lease on life.


Alysa is a 13-year old girl who  traveled to Team ENT’s clinic with her dad to seek care for a mass above her eyebrow.

The young girl, who likes math and running, is looking forward to returning home after a successful procedure and playing with her chihuahua named Coco.