Advanced Practice Providers
- If you have been to Central Care Cancer Center in Great Bend, then you might know Richard Cramer. He has unfortunately been a fixture of the clinic since the clinic’s beginning, and has battled a variety of cancers including colon, prostate, and two rounds of lung cancer. Through it all, the 82 year old father of three and grandfather to seven, remains upbeat, full of life and a bit ornery.
It started near the year 2000, when Richard thought he had hemorrhoids, but his referring provider thought differently and ordered a colonoscopy, which showed colon cancer. Richard had a colectomy in 2001 and started seeing Dr. Mark Fesen with Central Care Cancer Center.
In the United States, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women with the majority of them being preventable. Early detection is key to success, such as getting a colonoscopy. Richard’s most recent colonoscopy in 2019 came back negative.
On top of the colon cancer, it was discovered that Richard hadn’t had a recent PSA test. The PSA test is a blood test used primarily to screen for prostate cancer. The test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. According to Richard, “they checked mine and it was higher than a kite. I mean it was out of sight.” Richard received treatment and his PSA is now at a normal level.
Dr. Fesen encouraged Richard to go through a series of tests and scans. That’s when cancer showed up in his right lung: non-small cell lung cancer. Richard’s right upper lobe was resected in 2003. He underwent an intense schedule of radiation therapy and chemo for over a month.
However, a few months later, cancer had metastasized to Richard’s right adrenal gland and surgery was performed to resect the gland. On top of that, Richard developed a hernia on the right side of his body. “The family was in Salina at a hotel and my young granddaughter at the time was sitting on a chair playing a game. She about fell off and I went to grab her, causing the hernia. I got that repaired, but I had it sticking out there pretty good. I could rest my arm on it,” chuckled Richard.
“So, I’m getting over the hernia and recovering from the right adrenal gland resection, when it was discovered I was losing my vision.” By now its 2004 and Richard underwent cataract surgery. It would seem though Richard would not be done seeing the inside of a hospital, as shortly after this surgery, he was sitting on a stool, shaving with an electric razor in his bathroom. He got up, but went down hard and broke his left leg in two different places. “After that, I was in pretty good shape for a long while,” said Richard.
It wasn’t until January of 2020 when cancer appeared in Richard’s left lung. Again, non-small cell carcinoma. “Currently it’s in remission, but I continue to take IVIg’s,” said Richard. Intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) is a product made up of antibodies that can be given intravenously. Antibodies are proteins that your body makes to help you fight infections. With cancer, the body’s immune system can be depleted and not make antibodies on its own.
Throughout this whole time, Richard has worked with Dr. Fesen at Central Care. Richard jokes, “I’m kind of the boss there. When I’m there to do my IVIg’s, I just go there, and pretty much know what I’m doing. I mean, everybody knows me and if they don’t me, the will in short order (laughing). Nobody really tries to boss me around. I’ve been here since the clinic opened!”
This Army veteran not only battled colon and prostate cancer, but lung cancer twice. “When I first started, I was scared to death. I didn’t know what was going on. Dr. Fesen had written a book (Surviving the Cancer System: An Empowering Guide to Taking Control of Your Care) and that book probably helped me more than anything else. But when he told me I had lung cancer, that kind of kicked me in the butt. I just felt well what the heck is going on here. It’s not just the treatments, but its everything else – preventive medicines, additional appointments and doctors. I guess after the lung cancer, I just kind of got strong and I believed a little bit more in the Lord maybe. I got to the point where you are not going to kick me. You are not going to kick me, because I’m already down. I’ve got to kick this.”
Mary, Richard’s wife of 59 years agrees. “He is such a strong person and he takes care of himself, all of his medications and doctor’s appointments. It’s amazing how he has come through all of this. He has had setback after setback with these numerous cancers, but he always comes through. It’s amazing.”
Despite it all, when asked how he’s doing now, Richard responds, “I feel all right. Hell, when you’re over 80 years old, how are you supposed to feel really? I would say that I don’t feel like I’m 40, and I can’t do things like I used to, but I feel all right.”“
- Richard Cramer
- I am so grateful for the awesome care Dr. Fesen and the whole staff have given me these past 15 years. If it hadn’t been for cancer my path would not have crossed any of you. Thanks for your part in my life. Dr. Fesen and God make a Great Team!“
- Truli Diamond
- We are very pleased with Dr. Nanney and Pam. Very caring and kind. Also the staff has been very helpful.“
- Herb & Jane Stange
- We could see how hard everyone works to make sure I had the best treatment possible. We also appreciated being able to get care so close to our home.“
- Delmar Rose