Late last January and early February I started having some concerning health symptoms. These were shortness of breath, lack of energy, chest pains, coughing, weak voice and swallowing issues. I did not share this with anybody including my wife, Sally. Once we were back in Minnesota in April, these symptoms persisted and got worse. I shared this with Sally and we decided that I should see my cardiologist, Dr. Wade Schmidt, out of Centra Care in Saint Cloud. Dr. Schmidt said that we needed to do an angiogram to start with, so we did this on May 25th. After the angiogram, Dr. Schmidt told us he had some good news and some bad news. The good news was that my previous stents were working wonderfully on the right side of my heart. The bad news was that there are three blockages on the left side of my heart that were in too dangerous of a spot to stent, so I needed bypass surgery. He set me up with a heart surgeon, Dr. Daren Danielson, out of Centra Care in Saint Cloud to do my bypass surgery. Sally and I met with Dr. Danielson on June 2nd. Both he and Dr. Schmidt wanted to move forward with the bypass surgery, but were concerned about my other symptoms, especially the coughing. They wanted me to see an ENT specialist, Dr. Truitt, also out of Centra Care in St. Cloud. We met with him on June 4th and had a laryngoscopy on that same day. The results showed that I had some significant infection and swelling in the upper throat area, so they put me on a number of medications to address those issues. They also wanted me to get an endoscopy to check out the lower part of my esophagus and stomach. They wanted to see if the medications were going to help the coughing, weak voice and swallowing, so the endoscopy was scheduled for July 9th. On July 9th, Dr. Bednarz, at Saint Cloud Hospital, did the endoscopy. She came into the room after the procedure to tell Sally and me `that I have esophageal cancer. She told me she would recommend me to an esophageal cancer specialist at the University of Minnesota Hospital. She also said they would like to do a CT scan from my neck down to my pelvis with contrast to see if the cancer has spread anywhere else. We did that the same day and anxiously awaited the results. During that weekend we got results that the cancer has not spread at this point anywhere else. However, because I was showing symptoms they feel that the cancer has advanced. To say that Sally and I were shocked and devastated would be an understatement. As a matter of fact, for three days or so I did not want to see or hear from anyone except our children and grandkids. However, I am now past the poor me, pity party and now in my fighting mode against this nasty disease. We also know we need to take care of the cancer before we do the bypass surgery. We are now sharing our journey with everyone and have been humbled and overwhelmed by the love, support and prayers of many people. We have an appointment on Tuesday, July 20 with a G.I. specialist at Mayo Clinic. We also have an appointment on Wednesday, July 21 with a G.I. specialist at the University of Minnesota Hospital. My close friend, Jon Stolski, has put me in touch with a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic, who is a good friend of Jon’s. That cardiologist has been extremely helpful with our Mayo information. As a matter of fact, all of the medical personnel so far have been outstanding with their care and concern.
The family will update when they need support, meals and help. For now we are asking for your prayers and love. Making a tribute or donation via Caring Bridge donates money to Caring Bridge and not John.