Published on January 06, 2012

Hiker Tackles Another Journey...Cancer

Genesis Cancer Care Institute provides advanced treatment close to home

Seven times before, Joe Seier had tackled The Barr Trail, a spectacular route up Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs. None of those treks felt like the eighth.

“I knew I couldn’t feel so bad just because I was a year older. I’d never had any trouble before but that time I felt terrible. I was exhausted to the point of being on my knees at the end. I knew something had to be wrong,’’ said the 54-year-old Seier, who is a supervisor in Engineering and Maintenance at Genesis Medical Center, Davenport.

Instead of taking seven or eight hours, which was normal for his other trips to the summit, Seier needed more than 10 hours and the fatigue consumed him.

What he didn’t know was that his fatigue was caused by anemia. The internal chaos in his body, including the bleeding that was causing the anemia, was the result of a tumor the size of a tennis ball in his colon.

“That last climb of The Barr Trail (in the summer of 2010) probably saved my life,’’ Seier said. “I probably wouldn’t have known anything was wrong if I hadn’t felt so badly that day.’’

When he returned to Davenport, Seier made the decision that probably saved his life. He made an appointment with his primary care physician. The tumor was discovered after blood screening and a colonoscopy.

“After the surgery, the surgeon said if I had waited six months more, we’d be having an entirely different conversation,’’ Seier said. “I took that to mean I probably wouldn’t have survived.’’

The tumor was removed, and Seier began a 12-treatment regimen of chemotherapy. With some adjustments to his pre-chemotherapy medications, he was able to continue working at Genesis during the weeks he was undergoing chemotherapy. He also qualified for a clinical trial. He received care from professionals who don’t only treat cancers, but treat people.

And, it all was available close to home from the Genesis Cancer Care Institute.

“At every stage in my treatment, I thought everyone was terrific. They knew what needed to be done, and they were always looking out for my safety as a patient,’’ Seier said.

“It was all here for me at Genesis. “It would have made no sense for me to be anywhere but at Genesis. I would believe that even if I wasn’t an employee.’’

Seier was touched by multiple aspects of the comprehensive care at the Genesis Cancer Care Institute. In addition to having the latest cancerfighting technology, the team of cancer professionals also offers education, support and compassion.

“I would have my chemo treatments on Friday. I would go home with another drug, and it would be pumped into me all weekend. I was hooked up to the portable pump all weekend. By Sunday, when I could get it off, I wanted to get it off as quickly as possible because the drug made me so sick. The people at Genesis would literally drop what they were doing to unhook me because they understood how important it was to me,’’ he said. “Sometimes it is just a simple thing that makes a difference to patients.’’

Genesis Cancer Care Institute participates in dozens of clinical trials.

Seier was part of a clinical trial testing the effectiveness of Celebrex, the osteoarthritis pain medication, to reduce the recurrence of colon polyps. Seier is a cancer success story. He is working, feeling well and is already planning a big trip for next summer.

To Colorado. He’ll tackle The Barr Trail again.

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