Relay for Life – Survivors get the upper hand
Nancy Anderson and Kyle Hoffman have a lot to share about their experiences with cancer as the 2008 Emmet County Relay for Life honorary cancer survivors.
Anderson’s battle with cancer began April 23 when she went for a mammogram. Abnormal tissue was detected April 25 and she had a biopsy in Spencer. While she thought she would be told it was nothing, she was aware of cancer in her family health history. She was diagnosed with cancer April 30. “The one I wanted to tell the least was my son,” Anderson said.
Anderson was referred by her family physician, Dr. Robert Hranac, to her surgeon Dr. Slattery in Spencer and oncologist Dr. Addison Tolentino at Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls, S.D., who recommended her postsurgery radiation and chemotherapy.
She underwent two lumpectomies, eight sessions of chemotherapy with two drugs at Avera Holy Family Health in Estherville, and 30 sessions of radiation at Spencer Hospital.
“Everybody was really good about it,” Anderson said of her fellow employees at Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative.
Fortunately, hers was a stage one cancer and was detected early.
“That’s a good thing,” said Anderson.
Ironically, since 1999 Anderson has been on the Relay for Life team for Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative where she has worked for 31 years. Her mother passed away from cancer in 1998, and since other relatives have been claimed by cancer as well, she was very aware of the possibility that she could be diagnosed with cancer herself.
“I guess doing what they tell you to do pays off,” Anderson said of her early diagnosis.
Anderson advises other women to be aware of their family histories and if there is a record of anyone having had breast cancer, that they have a mammogram early. She advises every women to have a mammogram by age 40 and every year after age 50.
“The American Cancer Society tells you those things because they’re true,” Anderson said.
Like others undergoing chemotherapy, Anderson had hair loss starting 17 days after her first treatment.
“It’s coming back curly,” she said. “I didn’t have curly hair before.” Anderson said other cancer survivors have told her that after time her hair will be straight again.
Kyle Hoffman, a 2007 Estherville Lincoln Central graduate, is the other honorary 2008 Cancer Survivor for Emmet County Relay For Life.
Hoffman began getting sick about a year ago and Aug. 10 was diagnosed with stage 3A testicular cancer. He had surgery last Aug. 17 and since he had spots on his lungs and spine, he underwent chemotherapy for 10 weeks. In November he was proclaimed cancer-free.
His bout with cancer made him delay his college studies by a semester, but he’s making up for it real fast. In addition to taking 15-18 hours a semester at Des Moines Area Community College in his mortuary science studies, Hoffman is working 20-40 hours a week at a funeral home.
Like Anderson, Hoffman had the typical hair loss associated with chemotherapy. He advises anyone who has cancer to “keep a positive attitude” and that it’s a good idea for everyone, with cancer or not, to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Hoffman is looking forward to Saturday’s Relay for Life.
“It should be pretty cool,” Hoffman said. “It’s an honor, I guess. It’s awesome to be selected that by a group that’s done so much to fight cancer.”