POSTNOTE:  See “Reflection” here.

My surgeon called with the pathologist report yesterday.  More on that in a moment.

This post may be amended later.  Check back, if interested.  [Amended by addition below, Wed. a.m. Mar. 2, 2022.  Comments are solicited and will be added to this post as received.]

My time in the hospital coincided with Ukraine, and the untimely death of Dr. Paul Farmer.  Respectfully consider working into each of your days some overt ways of promoting respect for peace and justice and a better world for everyone.  I’m not talking rocket science here.  We need to learn again how important each of us is to the others in our lives.

Colon Cancer:

My report is going to be minimal.  I am open to any questions about anything from anyone.

My surgeons verbal report on March 1 was good (caution: this is my interpretation of his words).  The cancer was stage two, about one inch, had not spread thus no need for chemo.  I’m told the surgery was difficult and it was successful.

My history in a few words:  I was a regular with colonoscopies for many years, since the disease took my mother and others in the family circle.  It is a family disease.  The last scope before C-day was 2015 when I was 75, and it was, as had become typical, clear.   Of course, we all know how Covid-19 arrived in 2020 and upset everyone’s notion of normal, especially the medical sector.  In 2021 I was overdue.  It was nobody’s fault.

The alarm bell rang in mid October 2021, and the system, including myself, sprang into action, and was extraordinary.   This was only my second personal close encounter with major medical procedure – the first was 2018 – with a similarly and possibly even more difficult open heart operation.

I have no words other than gratitude for the “system” of medicine.  We have no idea how fortunate we are.


I’ve come to look on medicine as an extraordinary collection of human beings with all the potential and dilemmas such a collection entails.  Every single person is there for a reason.  Every one is human.  Nothing is ever perfect.

The ‘town’ called ‘hospital’ and like is full of people who are very, very sick; and armies of those who care for them.  The patients and their next of kin are hurting and scared and feeling out of control, literally, perhaps for the first time.  It an be wearing on anyone.  I’m grateful it exists.

I took a few photos in my environment, Unit C – Surgical Oncology, 7th floor University of Minnesota Hospital.

Here are two:

Above, the entry to the Unit, taken on one of my walks near time of discharge. Below, a nurse assisting a patient in the same exercise that I’d become an accomplished veteran in two days.


I have previously noted that my first wife died at this very hospital, possibly this very Ward, July 24, 1965.  My gift to the staff will be my recollections, as a spouse, of that very difficult summer, where my wife spent her last 57 or so days of life.  For me, compared to her, my ordeal was a walk in the park.  She was there for a kidney transplant, then being performed, but still new.  Questions?   Ask.  I will answer.


Initially, I had hoped for a single room in recovery.  That dream vanished within an hour of my coming out of anesthesia.  My roommate was my sons age, long haul struggle with Covid-19, hospitalized over 40 days, and about to be moved to rehab.  Multiple and very serious medical issues.  Yes, he was fully vaccinated at time he contracted Covid.

He and I had brief opportunities to talk a bit, and of course, there was absolutely no privacy behind the curtain separating the two of us, other than we couldn’t see each other.

I felt and feel blessed to have met him, and I think he feels the same.  We saw each others face one time only, and that was when I was about to leave.

He will always be in my mind, indeed in my heart.  His will probably be a long, long haul.  He has a survivors heart, I think.  But his struggle will be daunting.

In peace.



24 hours ago I published this post, and in the afternoon I went back for a scheduled medical appointment at the University Clinic which includes my surgeon.  I decided to bring along the report referred to in “1965”, above, for the surgeon, and for the Nurse Manager of the Surgical Oncology Unit which was my post op recovery area.  I will be distributing this to other medical persons as well.  And to you, if you have a particular interest and so request.  There are lessons to be learned from the past, (which for me, in this case, are 57 years ago, and last week, from a phenomenal institution and its people.)

In the multi-page document I referred to my first wife’s funeral in Valley City, North Dakota, on July 29, 1965.  I noted that the Medicare Act was signed into U.S. Law a day later, July 30, 1965.  I also noted that during Barbara and my brief marriage, even if I had purchased hospital insurance (I had not), Barbara would have been excluded from coverage because of pre-existing conditions which were unknown to us at the time of our marriage.  Which brings to mind the Affordable Care Act of 2010, Obamacare, which some still love to hate.  Barbara was 22 when she died; Medicare was for old people like my grandparents back then.  The wheels turn slowly, but the safety net extended down to people like Barbara when enacted in 2010.  It is still a resource to be protected.


Last night happened to be President Biden’s State of the Union Address, which I watched in its entirety.  I wanted to see what he had to say.

The State of the Union is an aspirational event – where the President in effect presents his wish list for the people of the United States, as represented by elected persons and promoted by the people who elect them, like me.  It goes without saying that we are a deeply divided country at this moment.

I will not list what the President had to say, nor catalog the reaction to the assorted items, nor point out who came, and who didn’t.  Everyone can read these on their own.

What I did note was the ordering of the items:  Ukraine led, of course; and Oil was right at the top.

Closer to the end, and lengthy, and notable by their appearance, were what I would call the “we, the people” items: child care, prescription drugs, Covid-19, medical service and such.  The positioning, etc., was conscious and deliberate in my opinion, and It is worth reading the Presidents words as presented, and to lobby with your own representatives at state and national level as time goes on.


I am fully aware of the ‘base’ of my personal perspective.  I grew up in the old days in a very rural environment in North Dakota.  We are middle class, we deeply benefit from and always supported Medicare and related programs, have great supplemental medical and Pharma insurance, have long lived in a major metropolitan area in a generally progressive state.  I have seen the alternatives, both long ago and in the present day in less affluent areas and countries.  I don’t take any of what I have for granted.  I certainly don’t covet my benefit as a birthright, that others should not have.  We are an extremely wealthy county, and we must share both within our borders and with others.

“We, the people” are each and every single one of us.  There is no acceptable cop out.  Barbara did her part 57 years ago and before.  We share her and others legacy.

COMMENTS:  more at end of post

from Christine: It is good to hear good news from your condition. I admire your sensitivity when you mention your first wife and also your wisdom in commenting personal family events and political ones too…

You are somebody I enjoy talking to and exchanging ideas. You are always positive and reserved.
from Judy: you have my prayers and I am sending God’s blessing to you.  Please take care, rest and know you are loved and celebrated by so many people.  Love and peace
from Jane: Do take care!  I love getting ashes on my forehead every Ash Wednesday.  This time I’ll think of you.  Please give up cancer for Lent!

from Gail: Glad to hear your report sounds good.  We have been grieving for Paul Farmer, too.

May your recovery continue without complication!

from Denise: Thank you for the update!

I appreciated your thoughts about the state of the union address. I always tear up when the president is announced and walks in. I was watching with other labor activists in an online setting. There was a lot of joy and positive thoughts, compared to the last state of the union we watched.
Looking forward to more updates. Take good care.

from Jim: We are all praying for you

from Bob: Good to learn of your positive reports and post-surgery path to recovery.   Keep resting and praying; stay positive and know many are praying for you, including me.

from Terrence: Keep fighting. My Grandmother and my dad both had colon cancer. My grandmother had a colon resection with the “unpleasant bag” from the late 1920s until she died in 1951 at the age of 85.

from Sharon: So glad to hear of good results from your surgery. I know what you mean about having a colonoscopy in 1922.  I was having complications and had to have a colonoscopy, which I do every year or two. I had to go to Melrose Hospital as I could not go to St. Cloud Hospital because of COVID. Luckily, the cancer had not come back, but now have colitis.

My brother lost his wife at age 38. It changed our family. Your wife needed a kidney transplant? My brother, Dallas, died during a liver transplant.  .We have had similar health issues in our families. I can tell that you have remained a positive person as I have and lived a great and full life.
Gpd bless you.
from Mark: Good news Dick!!  Wonderful!
from Bruce: Lenten Blessings on you Dick. Thanks for the update.
from David: Thanks for sharing your journey my friend. Be well.

from Annelee, 95, who grew up in Nazi Germany :Dick, I am so happy you are doing so well.Sorry, I haven’t been more attentive.  You are still in my thoughts and prayers.

I am also very concerned. We, America are infected with disunity. How several GOP Senators could side with Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine is beyond me. I listened to Tucker Carlson tonight, I wonder if he ever listens and checks what he is saying.  He rambles on,repeats his statements that have no fact behind them  He is Rush Limbaugh  reincarnated, only worse. The Senators should at least bow their heads in shame and try to get some work done that benefits the people who voted them in.

So much reminds me of Germany. My papa and Uncle Pepp would have a hard time, I wish they were here, at least they could voice their thoughts. I think they would be worth being listened to.  Annelee

Dick, with daughter Heather, and spouse Cathy at St. John Neumann, Eagan MN, Ash Wednesday, March 2, 2022. The church was packed.

6 replies
  1. greg halbert
    greg halbert says:

    Great comments which I thoroughly enjoyed reading, as always. Keep on keeping on, my Friend and make a complete recovery!
    Greg H

  2. Jane
    Jane says:

    Well stated as usual, Dick. Good news about your health.
    Healthcare for all! It’s not only humanitarian, it’s also good for business. Businesses in other countries don’t have to provide employee health care. They have an advantage over American business. Sometimes money is what changes minds.

  3. Pat G
    Pat G says:

    Always enjoy reading your prospectives of the happenings in this country we live in. Totally agree with your judgments on healthcare too! Happy to hear you are getting rest as needed and taking good care of yourself! Be safe too!!

  4. Mary Ellen Weller
    Mary Ellen Weller says:

    Yours is a story that touches the heart, Dick. Your young wife’s death, the family medical history, and your personal struggles with heart and cancer issues, all of it strikes deep. Thanks for having the courage to write about it–and to connect the personal events to public policy. Jane is so right—Health Care For All!

  5. norm hanson
    norm hanson says:

    Anyone who has spent time “undercover” in the hospital as I have (similar to your surgery and for eight -days due to some complications) and has my spouse (three-times for her chronic condition in one-year) quickly appreciates the caring and the quality of care provided by the staff from the CNAs to the RNs to the physicians and everyone and skill level in between. As such, it was so hard to swallow when seeing so many dimwits harassing medical staffers a few months into the pandemic as being purveyors of a hoax about the virus and the critical care that so many required as a result of VCOVID-19. Just pure stupidity and dumb bottom!


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