Tonganoxie resident rallies behind hospital
Imagine being 29 years old, gainfully employed, happily married and the father of an infant daughter. Then combine that with the shock and anguish of being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Such was the case for Tonganoxie resident Matt Bond five years ago, when a malignant tumor was discovered on his abdominal wall.
While bouncing his 6-month-old daughter on his stomach, Bond noticed an unusual firmness on one side of his stomach. Although he felt fine, he sought medical advice.
Diagnostic testing revealed a malignant, cantaloupe-sized tumor. The official diagnosis was desmoplastic small round cell tumor, an extremely rare form of cancer that usually strikes adolescent males. Physicians speculated the tumor had been present for six months to a year. Bond was more than surprised. He was shocked. As a strength and conditioning instructor and coach of multiple sports teams at Tonganoxie High School, he had kept himself fairly fit. One of his grandfathers had died of lung cancer, but there was no other genetic predisposition to cancer.
At Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Dr. Mark Praeger removed the tumor and a portion of Bond's transverse colon. There were no signs the cancer had spread to other parts of his body. Lawrence oncologist Dr. Matt Stein followed up the surgery with an aggressive chemotherapy plan that included treatments at Lawrence Memorial Oncology Center, as well as three trips to an Indianapolis cancer treatment center.
Bond, now 34 and cancer free, looks back at that time as a frightening and surreal period in his life. Unlike many patients who received daylong chemotherapy treatments and then went home, his unusual form of cancer called for weeklong hospital stays each time he received a treatment. He suffered the usual side effects of fever, fatigue, hair loss and nausea.
Despite the grueling ordeal, at least one positive thing came from the experience: the confidence he developed in Lawrence Memorial Hospital and the physicians who practice there.
"My surgeon, my oncologist, my family physician Dr. Phil Stevens in Tonganoxie, and the entire hospital staff were very reassuring and always gave me very personalized treatment," Bond said. "I remember one time, my doctor gave me his home phone number to call in case I needed it, which surprised me."
He also was impressed that Stein conferred with specialists in Indiana to develop a special protocol just for him. And he was moved by the commitment of the oncology nurses who arranged to come in on weekends, when needed, as part of his special treatment plan.
Many follow-up scans and another child later, he is back at work and back to life as he knew it before, but this time with the security of knowing that first-rate healthcare is just minutes away. With a fundraising campaign under way to help finance an expansion project in progress at LMH, Bond is one of many area citizens rallying support for the community hospital.
"When I got sick, there was never a doubt that I would go Lawrence Memorial Hospital," he said. "I have tremendous confidence in the doctors and staff."