Rodney Graham’s father bought a farm in 1953, and Rodney has been farming there ever since. He gets up early, and he works late because crops can’t wait.
“It’s not a job. It’s a lifestyle,” he said. “This past year, we were right in harvest season doing corn, and I just didn’t have energy. If I wanted to do something, I really had to put my mind to it and give it 110 percent. And, I still would be tired out.”
So, he spoke to his doctor and had some blood work done. On a Wednesday, he got the phone call: “I just had a chance to review your bloodwork. I don’t want to alarm you but we could be looking at leukemia,” the doctor said.
Rodney had been feeling bad for a long time, and he didn’t want to prolong it any longer. So, he saw a specialist at Rochester General Hospital that very next Monday.
“I always wondered how I’d react if I was told I had cancer. ‘What are we looking at? Is it something treatable or do I need to get my house in order?’”
Thankfully, the doctor said there were options for Rodney’s leukemia treatment. Typically, for someone older than 60, experts would recommend chemotherapy pills for two – or maybe three – years. But that would have meant the possibility of missed harvests for Rodney, who was otherwise healthy.
So, together with his doctor, Rodney decided to go the route of doing HiDAC, which is a high dose of chemo that wouldn’t interfere as much with his work on the farm.
“I had the choice,” said Rodney, with appreciation in his voice. “I think it’s good to be optimistic. You don’t want to be defeated before you even start.”
That decision turned out to be the best one for Rodney, who is back to waking up early and working late.
He’s also spending more time with his family and planning for a healthy retirement.
“I’m thankful just to be here. I’m blessed.”
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