“Initially I thought my stomach pains were a result of stress — my job can be pretty straining sometimes. Then around April 2018, I started noticing a change in my system. I was having to run to the bathroom more than is normal for me,” Keith Wilhemson says.
He visited a doctor for his stomach issues and was told it was likely a bacterial infection.
“I was really lucky because before my doctor prescribed me the medicine, he decided to do a colonoscopy just in case. That’s when they found the tumor,” Wilhemson said.
He was diagnosed with locally advanced rectal cancer.
Three kids under the age of nine, a loving wife, a fulfilling career as a Paterson schoolteacher, and a side gig as a DJ were all more than enough reasons to keep Keith fighting through cancer treatment.
“My wife and I did our due diligence. We spoke to people at different hospitals, including one where we have some family friends working. Ultimately, we just felt very comfortable at Englewood Health. With them, everything was on the table. They were extremely open with us and that really gained our trust,” Wilhemson says.
Wilhemson underwent nearly six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy. In September, Anna Serur, MD, chief of colorectal surgery, removed the tumor from his colon. He will soon undergo additional chemotherapy, the last portion of his treatment plan.
Wilhemson has healed well from surgery. The last couple months have been spent at home with his 8-year-old twin boys and his 2-year-old daughter. Wilhemson says this time has given him a renewed appreciation for all the stay-at-home parents out there.
“My experience with treatment has been really positive. When I went in for my infusions, I always messed around and joked with the team. They gave me a funny certificate when I finished my infusions. Now they’re actually planning their Christmas party and are having it at the restaurant where I DJ on the weekends. I think I’ve made some friends that will last beyond treatment,” Wilhemson says.
His surgeon, Dr. Serur, says, “We worked together with Keith and his family to provide the best long-term outcome and not to disrupt his life. Most importantly, we wanted Keith to continue smiling and doing what he loves best. We tailored his treatment without compromising his quality of life. He and his family went to Ireland in between his treatment and surgery, he took his kids to Disney World, and he celebrated his children’s birthday parties with a bash.”
Posted January 4, 2019