Working in the Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center operating room proved literally life-changing for CRNA Rodney Mann.
In the fall of 2012, Mann said he was working with Dr. Robert Knox, the hospital’s EMT surgeon, and doing anesthesia for his cases.
When Knox began to notice changes in Mann’s voice, he thought Mann may have a growth on his vocal chords and requested to check them.
Using a scope, Knox discovered a growth on Mann’s vocal chords and referred him to a specialist who removed the growth in January of 2013.
“Dr. Knox saved my life,” Mann said.
Mann was initially told the growth wouldn’t be cancerous, but two weeks later, in February, he learned that the growth was stage 1 squamous cell carcinoma, a form of cancer.
Mann said he went through the “full gamut of emotions” upon his diagnosis. He was young, healthy, and didn’t drink or smoke.
At the time Mann, originally from Louisiana, was still engaged to his wife, Christie Keown, who was the first person he called upon learning the news of his diagnosis.
Mann said he offered his fiancée the option of breaking off the engagement, so she wouldn’t have to endure the struggle he faced; instead, Keown married him on March 3, 2013, so she could be with him throughout all of his treatment.
“I wouldn’t have done as well without her present,” Mann said.
Beginning in March, 2013, Mann started six weeks of daily radiation at Hardin Memorial Hospital cancer center with Radiation Oncologist Richard Seither, who Mann described as “phenomenal.”
Mann was given the option of taking a regular regimen of radiation, which offered a 77 percent chance of survival, or a high regimen, which offered a 97 percent chance of survival.
Despite the increased side-effects and pain, Mann said he was willing to endure the high regimen for the increased chance of survival.
Mann said the side-effects of the radiation and the fatigue proved the most difficult part of his treatment.
“It literally burns you outside and in,” he said.
At the end of the six weeks, Mann said he was blessed with a supportive wife and kids and never had to miss a shift at the hospital for his treatment.
In May of this year, Mann went in for his two-year check-up and was declared two years cancer-free.
Mann said the experience of cancer changed his entire outlook on life and made his personal life more energetic and positive.
“You don’t take little things for granted anymore,” he said. “My outlook is positive more so than ever.”
Mann also realized his time spent with his children is more precious than ever before, and he’s more appreciative of the gifts he’s been given now that he has a second chance at life.
Mann said that while it’s impossible to thank every single person who helped him through his battle with cancer, he wants to publicly thank his wife, fellow hospital staff, and everyone else for their outpouring of love, support, and prayers.
And to those still battling cancer, Mann said, “Surround yourself with great friends and family, and utilize the modern miracles of medicine. Doctors are why I’m where I am today…Never give up.”