Never give up It was a typical day, February 21, 2007, but it didn’t remain that way. I took Edna, my wife, to her doctor in Kendallville for a routine visit. Before I knew it, I was the patient. I had been taking Prevacid for abdominal pain, but it wasn’t helping and the pain was getting worse. I was sent for a CT scan and soon learned that I had a large mass in my pancreas that was likely cancer.
I was referred to Fort Wayne to see an oncologist, but there was a two week wait, so I called Kristin Rheinheimer at Goshen Center for Cancer Care and told her that I had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I’m a farmer and out in the sun a lot, so I had seen Kristin for skin exams. She also knew that I had survived prostate cancer five years earlier. Kristin was super; within an hour she had me face to face with Dr. Hostetter to discuss treatment for pancreatic cancer. After our meeting, Dr. Hostetter told me to go home and discuss it with my family. I have four children and when I told them, they all said “Go for it Dad!” I told other people too, some were encouraging, but others said “Don’t bother, you’re not going to make it anyway,” but I called Dr. Hostetter and told him I was going to fight it. And so the journey began.
I had my surgery March 2, 2007 and spent 11 days in the hospital. While I was an inpatient on 2 North, I met Pat Shoemaker, one of the cancer center counselors. It was a Tuesday afternoon and Pat was baking cookies for family hour. That chance meeting over cookies proved to be important to me when I started chemotherapy two months later. Pat was wonderful, not just during family hour, but throughout my 28 week chemotherapy regimen. She told me to “Never give up” and I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, treatment was not easy, but Pat seemed to appear just when I needed her most.
I understand that many people don’t win the battle with pancreatic cancer, but I did. And the people at Goshen are the reason why I’m alive. I told Kristin Rheinheimer one day “You saved my life” and she said “Well, that’s what we’re here for.” I believe that the doctors and nurses at Goshen are the best you can find. Even when I stop in to visit after all these years, the nurses still recognize me and call me by name.
I have been cancer free now for four years. I had my port removed recently and was released from the cancer center. I now follow up with my family doctor to make sure I keep the health that Dr. Hostetter and Kristin fought so hard for me to have. Edna, my family and Mitzi my dog, are enjoying life, cancer free.