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Mann survives cancer to inspire others

By Staff | Jun 3, 2010

Sandy Mann is one of four Emmet County Relay for Life Honorary Cancer Survivors for 2010. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

It wasn’t that terribly many years ago that a cancer diagnosis was a death sentence.

Now, however, with far more advanced diagnosis and treatment options, more people are surviving from cancer than who are not. In fact, in some types of cancer, a majority of people live on to inspire others.

As one of the Honorary Survivors for 2010 Emmet County Relay for Life, Sandy Mann hopes to inspire others to carry on the fight against cancer – and win.

Mann’s cancer survival story started the morning of Feb. 20, 2005. She awoke to find the left side of her face swollen and hanging. She went immediately to Dr. Jim Creech who ordered a blood draw and found her hemoglobin down to seven. Dr. Creech followed up with a colonoscopy which indicated colon cancer. She had surgery that March 11.

“I did everything here in Estherville – from beginning to end,” Mann said.

She followed the surgery with chemotherapy every other week for six months, allowing her to work every other week. Dr. Addison Tolentino was her oncologist.

Mann did experience side effects, and still has pain in her legs. “So I’ll just have that for the rest of my life,” she said.

All tests continue to show normal results.

Mann has some definite advice for anyone else who faces a cancer diagnosis.

“Your faith is what’s going to pull you through,” she said.

Mann also found that having cancer brought her family closer together than ever. She and her husband, Tim, and daughters Missy and Ashlynne, have formed a bond that’s rare in many families.

She also finds inspiration from events like Relay for Life. “It helps so much,” Mann said.

Mann found the hardest thing about having cancer was right after the diagnosis. “You have to process it before you forget it.”

However, the fact that she works at the Estherville Good Samaritan Society was quite reassuring. The nursing staff helped her monitor her cafeteria of medications. “You’ve kind of got to know what’s going on yourself,” Mann said.

Mann urges everyone to be aware of any incidences of cancer in the family history. She said her maternal grandmother died from breast cancer that spread throughout her body. She said her father had three cancer bouts as well.

She has a world of praise for Dr. Ronald Kolgraff who supervised the surgery. He told Mann’s daughter Kristy if she had any questions to write them down. Kristy did – three or four pages of them. And he answered every one.

Mann also offered high praise for Dr. Patrick Slattery and Dr. Brian Wilson who did the surgeries.

“They did good,” Mann said. “They did what they were supposed to do and I’m here to talk about it.”

Mann also thanks Dr. Tolentino for his caring and professional attitude. She also thanks her family for taking care of her and for Avera Holy Family for allowing her to have all her surgeries and treatments right in Estherville.

“That was a major asset that I didn’t have any travel,” Mann said.