Utah cancer survivors marvel at medical progress

Saturday , June 21, 2014 - 11:59 AM

Standard-Examiner correspondent

ROY -- Cancer is still the beast it was when Zane Rote was first diagnosed with it in 1968. However, the Roy resident said he is grateful technology had turned the corner when he was diagnosed with it the second time.

"The first time I had it, I had to be cut open from the top of my head down to my neck and I was in the hospital a long time," he said. "The second time I had it, the surgeon was able to use a much simpler procedure and I was in the hospital one night."

Rote, 76, had glandular cancer in his neck the first time and throat cancer the second time. After six months of radiation therapy, he was declared cancer free.

"I have a bit of a shaky voice, but I'm grateful for what I have," he said. "Even though we haven't conquered this beast we have come a long way in how we are able to treat it. Forty years ago if you were diagnosed with cancer you were pretty much told to get your affairs in order. But that's not the case with many cancers today and I think one day we will be able to look back and say, 'Oh, yeah. We used to have to deal with cancer, but not anymore.'"

Rote was one of many cancer survivors at this year's Relay For Life West Weber, an overnight community walk Friday to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

"I attend because it's a good opportunity to meet other survivors as well as people who are facing cancer," Rote said. "It's also a good cause and one I think we should support as much as we can."

Joan Feddern and Harold Sherrod agree.

Feddern, 72, was diagnosed with a type of melanoma four months after her husband died of lung cancer.

"In March of 2002 my husband was diagnosed with a fast growing, aggressive lung cancer. He died 33 days later," Feddern said. "What a shock to our family."

Feddern's children got involved in Relay for Life and the family has been participating for the past eight years in the hope of one day eradicating cancer.

"Two months ago my daughter Stacy had a doctor biopsy a spot on her face. It came back cancerous," Feddern said.

Doctors were able to remove the cancer just as they were able to remove Feddern's, but both women said they don't feel like they are "true" survivors after watching what Feddern's husband went through.

Sherrod, 79, has survived cancer three times. The first two times, he was diagnosed with skin cancer on his ear which took 109 stitches to sew back together. The second time he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was treated with radioactive seed implants and is now cancer free.

"They ... planted 168 low dose radioactive seeds in my prostate and that did the job. That killed it," he said. "I participate in Relay for Life because I'm a cancer survivor. It's nice because you get a great dinner and a shirt that says 'I'm a cancer survivor' and you meet a lot of people who have had to face cancer."

The two day event, held at Roy Municipal Park on Friday and Saturday, included a survivor dinner, walk around the track, music, games and a luminary ceremony.

Sign up for e-mail news updates.