Steven Thompson - Cancer Survivor

Steve ThompsonMy Cancer Story

My story begins in March of 2019. It was a chilly day on the weekend, and I was sitting in my basement watching golf in some warm weather location, wishing the Nebraska spring would hurry up and arrive. I crossed my arms for warmth and noticed some pain in my right chest. I began to poke around and found a painful lump in the bottom portion of my right breast. Initially, I thought this was some sort of skin problem, but later that night in the shower, I noticed that the lump was larger than I had initially thought. As a male, the idea of breast cancer never even crossed my mind, but I shared my concern with my wife Darla. She felt like it would be best to get it checked out, and I reluctantly agreed.

I made an appointment with Matt Nielsen, M.D., my family doctor, for the end of the week. When I told Dr. Nielsen my concerns and showed him the lump, he didn’t know what it was and suggested a mammogram. A mammogram! I’m a male, we don’t do mammograms! However, I consented, because when you trust your doctor, you do what they recommend. I got scheduled and had the test. When I saw Dr. Nielsen to get the results, he recommended that I see a surgeon for the biopsy, because the radiologist couldn’t confirm what they saw on the mammogram. I was then scheduled to see Dr. Walter Eskildsen, a general surgeon.

My visit with Dr. Eskildsen was excellent. He explained all the options for biopsy but actually recommended just taking the entire lump out surgically. Surgery was scheduled on a Friday—my first surgical procedure in my life. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. However, Community Hospital surgical nurses are phenomenal. Working here in the hospital as a physical therapist, I was familiar with most of the nurses but got the opportunity to see them at their best firsthand. Surgery was a success with the entire lump removed. But then it was time to wait on the biopsy results.

I met with Dr. Eskildsen for the results about a week later. I was shocked to hear that it was cancer; ductal carcinoma in situ. Mine and my family's lives all changed in an instant. That word, cancer, set off a chain of events that were a blur: meeting with Dr. Pasam, an oncologist from North Platte Callahan Cancer Center and having DNA testing, then meeting with the radiation oncologist here in McCook, Dr. Todd Hlavaty. It all seemed to move very fast. Before I knew it, I was getting a CT scan so the radiation techs could get me set up for radiation treatments.

Being able to do my radiation here in McCook was huge for me. I was able to work through the entire process, taking off about 11:45 every morning to head over to the radiation center. Then I could take a short lunch break and head back to work. The radiation techs are absolutely phenomenal, both at their jobs, but also just as people. They really care about their patients and families, making an extremely stressful ordeal so much easier. I wouldn’t wish radiation on anyone, but if it’s needed, Community Hospital does an amazing job.

I now follow up with Dr. Pasam every six months, and will soon move to once a year. I take a hormone blocker medication called Tamoxifen, which I will be on for a total of five years. Other than the permanent skin change in the area of radiation and some strange dreams attributed to the medication, my life is basically back to normal, thanks to all the caregivers I interacted with during this strange time.