On a Monday morning when David Huiskes would usually be headed to work, he stayed home sick. And that simple decision changed everything.
“When it comes to being sick, I’m one of those guys that think they’re going to tough it out all the time,” said Huiskes.
“I didn’t go to work for the first time in my whole career — other than when I had been in a car accident,” he explained. “It was one of those moments where my wife and I knew there was something wrong with me because I stayed home.”
Following some encouragement from his family, Huiskes decided to see his doctor in Luverne, Minnesota. And after a few tests, his care team knew he was facing something serious.
A sudden diagnosis
Less than 24 hours later, Huiskes and his family were on the road headed to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Sanford Cancer Center. While it was an unexpectedly tough day, this was only the beginning of a six-month treatment battle against colon cancer.
“I thank the good Lord, my wife, my son, my daughter-in-law and everybody involved that got me through the first day,” he said. “That afternoon when I got to Sioux Falls, I could tell by just looking into my doctor’s eyes what condition I actually was in. They rushed me into surgery right away.”
After a successful four-and-a-half hour surgery and 10 days of recovering in the hospital, Huiskes was over the first of many medical hurdles to come. Then, it was on to chemotherapy.
Huiskes had four spots that his doctors were concerned about, but he was ready to do what needed to be done.
“You meet your battles head on, and that’s what you got to do — with the help of your doctors, family, church family, the good Lord above and everybody that surrounds you. That’s what it all comes down to,” said Huiskes.
He added, “The compassion that the nurses and doctors have shown through the whole ordeal has helped carry me through. I couldn’t have asked for better people as far as my treatment goes. Just listening to them, doing whatever they’ve been prescribing and following through has made it easy.”
Learn more: Cancer care at Sanford Health
Six chemotherapy infusions in, his CT scan showed that two spots were completely gone and the other two were 50% smaller. He had overcome another hurdle.
Huiskes had at least another six infusions to go, but he was hopeful that he was halfway through chemotherapy and would be done after treatment No. 12.
His last day of treatment
“When I started treatment, I couldn’t believe how far Oct. 28 sounded to me,” Huiskes said, “But I made it. I’m on my 12th treatment today, and I feel pretty confident with the help of all the people involved at Sanford Health that I’m going to be 100% healed.”
And he was. That same day Huiskes rang the bell, a moment that marks the end of his cancer treatment. Surrounded by his family and care team, he was finally celebrating a battle won.
This is the latest in a series called “We’re In This Together,” videos and stories from everyday patients going through cancer treatment at Sanford Health. Get an idea of what to expect from cancer survivorship — follow along to their appointments, and see a glimpse of the support in their lives.