Back in March, when I was first told of my diagnosis of urothelial cell carcinoma of the left kidney, a friend and cancer survivor offered me not sympathy, but these wise words: “Be prepared to meet some amazingly compassionate, professional and sincere caregivers”. How right she was.

Fargo is blessed with great health care — my wife Lorraine and I use Essentia Health in Fargo as our primary health care provider. There were countless numbers of dedicated Essentia employees who assisted me along this cancer journey. All were essential, some were critical.

From Dr. Michael Sheldon, our primary care physician, who identified the diagnosis, to Dr. Glenn Shamdas and the fantastic South University oncology team who guided me through the four rounds of chemotherapy.

From Dr. Phil Wanzek, who masterfully performed the robotic nephroureterectomy, to Dr. Thomas Sawyer, who kept me under during the six-hour procedure.

Other outstanding physicians included cardiologists Dr. Saurav and Dr. Yu; Drs. Albin, Schenck and Sauter in the emergency room, Dr. Minshar in nephrology and Dr. Aaron Jones in Radiology.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

An essential adjunct to the physicians included Nurse Practitioners Childress and Gedrose in urology, Vangerud and Schultz in cardiology, and Holtz in the ER.

These folks, along with a lot of very, very talented people selflessly share their God-given talent on a daily basis to care for people like me who depend upon them to make life-and-death decisions.

There was much more to this journey than even the amazing caregivers God provided. As professionally competent and caring as they were, there was a positive attitude and faith component that cannot be overlooked.

Beginning with my family, extending to Sundance Square community neighbors and broader circles of UND-PT colleagues to fellow Cassia/Elim Senior Living Board members and friends to the caregivers themselves, not once did I hear a dubious or negative word. I will readily admit there were nights when I may have questioned God’s providence — that is only human — but faith of family, friends and caregivers shone brightly throughout the entire ordeal.

I was made aware, for instance, of at least six church congregations, from Palm Coast, Fla. to Windsor, Colo. to Milaca and Pease, Minn. to Fargo’s Bethel whose prayer chains bore witness to the power of corporate prayer. I felt this, the family felt this, the caregivers acknowledged this. Prayer works!

It is now November, and as we approach the Thanksgiving season, my thankfulness is overflowing. One never knows what turn the cancer journey may take, and at some point we will all be called home.

Right now, there are no signs of metastasis, but the journey, the experience itself, has been made so very much easier, even peaceful, by the words my friend spoke.

The caregivers truly are amazing, compassionate, professional and sincere. But in order to fully appreciate the care, there must be a support system of family, friends, faith and prayer. I would hope that all cancer patients can have that support and the quiet assurance of Christian faith. Have a blessed and peaceful Thanksgiving!

Henry C. "Bud" Wessman is a resident of Fargo.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.