Elsberry’s former mayor, Terry Martin, has been punching back against cancer for eleven years, and he hasn’t heard a bell yet.
Martin first began to experience symptoms in August of 2007.
Those symptoms gradually became worse, and Martin finally sought out medical help in February of 2008.
“I was passing a lot of blood,” said Martin. “I made an appointment with the doctor, and he ordered an emergency colonoscopy.”
Several days later, Martin received some tough news.
“I was told they had found colon cancer,” said Martin. “Talk about total devastation and shock.”
Martin was 60 years old when he was diagnosed and he said he can’t help but wonder if he should have taken colon health more seriously at an earlier point in his life.
“If you’re over 50 years old and you haven’t had a colonoscopy, you need to get one,” said Martin. “Don’t get yourself into the kind of predicament that I’m in now.”
Martin ended up having five colonoscopies in 2008, followed by 36 radiation treatments and then surgery.
In the process, doctors discovered that Martin had kidney cancer.
“When they did the surgery on my colon, they went ahead and took the left kidney as well,” said Martin.
Martin also survived a bout with skin cancer back in 2003.
He finished chemotherapy for his first battle with colon cancer in 2009, and then things calmed down a bit for the next six years.
Unfortunately, however, Martin’s tumor flared up again in 2015.
So far, doctors have been able to keep the tumor from spreading, but it hasn’t been easy.
Over the course of the last four years, Martin has endured a number of different chemotherapy treatments, including both pills and IV treatments (which generally last three to four hours).
“Things could be worse,” said Martin stoically.
Martin currently requires one chemotherapy pill per day, but he no longer has to go to the hospital constantly for in-house chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
“God keeps me going for some reason,” said Martin. “He’s not done with me yet.”
Martin, who suspects that his current health problems are the result of being exposed to radiation during his service in Vietnam, said that having a fighting spirit is key to surviving cancer.
“You’ve got to fight,” said Martin. “You have to be tough and you can’t give up.”
That said, Martin added that, in his view, human strength must also yield to a higher power.
“The one and only thing that will cure me is God,” said Martin. “You have to have faith in God, because he will pull you through it.”