Ted's Courageous Story
In his woodworking shop, Ted Beuter is familiar with the importance of precision and patience. The final result is always a masterpiece. Staying healthy and fit has also long been an integral part of Ted Beuter's lifestyle, but he credits his wake-up call" with making that commitment even stronger. That "wake-up call" was a diagnosis of cancer.
It was January 2008 when Ted noticed that a small growth on his right cheek that he'd first spotted more than 20 years ago was now a bit larger. He went to Dr. Paul Thomas at MercyCare Center Point, who referred him immediately to an otolaryngologist. A biopsy showed the growth on the parotid gland was cancerous. (The parotid glands, located in front of the ears, are one of the body's major salivary glands.)
Surgery to Remove Growth
Within a week, Ted underwent surgery to remove the growth and eventually the parotid gland as a precaution. Seven weeks of radiation treatment at Hall Radiation Center followed, using Mercy's advanced TomoTherapy system, which precisely pinpoints the radiation to the cancerous tissue, minimizing damage to surrounding, healthy tissue. Pinpoint accuracy was something Ted could relate to, and was pleased to be on the receiving end given the circumstance.
Help From the Dietitian
During that time, Ted lost his ability to taste food and felt lethargic. A Hall Radiation Center dietitian helped monitor his diet, and suggested zinc supplements to help him recover his sense of taste. About a month after Ted finished radiation, his sense of taste began to come back. He still remembers when he knew his taste had recovered: he could taste his homemade wine.
Today, more than a year later, Ted, now 63, still feels some numbness in his right ear and part of his face but the feeling is returning. He is as active, if not more, as before with his many interests. He's finding that he needs all the energy he can get, being back in his woodworking shop making furniture with his son. It's turned into more than a hobby, now creating several pieces for his new home. And, of course, Ted once again tastes and enjoys everything he eats or drinks, especially his wife's homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Happy He Chose Mercy
Ted credits his strong recovery to the prompt, professional medical care he got, starting with Dr. Thomas, his friend and doctor. He's also happy that he chose Mercy for his care. His connections and familiarity with The Mercy Touch® played a part in that, he says. Ted worked for 37 years with the Linn County Sheriff's Department, retiring in 2005 as a lieutenant heading the rescue team. As a paramedic, he had worked with both Mercy and St. Luke's. So he knew firsthand how important well-honed, sharp medical skills can be. Ted has also served as treasurer of the Emergency Management Commission. And, a couple of doctors in Mercy's emergency department were Ted's students in the 1970s when he was an EMT teacher at Kirkwood Community College. Ted's also been on the Emergency Management Commission, and one of his daughters was a cardiovascular RN at Mercy and enjoyed it until she moved away.
"I think that's why I felt so comfortable with Mercy, knowing the staff in the ER and Mercy's being a Catholic hospital," Ted explains. "I just always felt comfortable coming there." Born and raised in Walker, he recalls that his parents always came to Mercy for any health care needs. And while he was hospitalized, Ted says, "the nurses were just wonderful. I never had to push a button to call them. They were always there. And the way they treated my family was so considerate, making sure they were comfortable." He also appreciated having a private room, with its accommodations for family visits. And, he adds, "I really appreciated being given communion by the volunteers. That's wonderful."
Hall Radiation Center
The staff at Hall Radiation Center was also exceptional, Ted says. "They're great people. When they asked how you felt, they really wanted to know," he notes, adding with a grin, "They were so good, they deserved my wife's chocolate chip cookies!" A cancer diagnosis is sobering, Ted says. "When they tell you, ‘you have cancer,' you think of doomsday," he explains. "Then, to get this sort of care, it's very reassuring. I couldn't have dreamed of a better experience."
It's in these moments that many patients, like Ted, realize they can beat cancer and continue with their lives not just surviving, but thriving long after a cancer diagnosis. Ted still sees several physicians for follow-up visits to monitor his progress. He and his wife Julie are even more active with bicycling, camping and daily work-outs. "Something like this wakes you up," Ted says. "You pay attention to exercise and diet. It changes some of your bad habits. I'm doing great. I'm in better physical shape than I was three or four years ago."