John Kuhr was a nurse for many years at Northern Montana Hospital. For 11 years, he was a traveling nurse, going from one small Montana town to another, wherever there was a need.
Some time back, he began to feel problems in his stomach. He lost his appetite and began losing weight.
With his medical knowledge, he figured it was a gallbladder problem, and decided he would solve the problem when he had time.
But when he underwent surgery, doctors learned it was far more serious than expected.
He remembers waking up from surgery to find his wife, Kathryn, holding his hand and crying. He knew it wasn’t good news.
Doctors found his insides filled with cancer.
He had cancer of the appendix, one of the rarest forms of the disease.
“They gave me 20 months,” he recalled.
He’s already beat that. He has taken various drugs and had a variety of reactions. He’s lost and gained weight. He’s had good days and bad days.
He’s learned a lot about treating cancer.
And he has learned a lot about the love of his friends and relatives.
His family and friends are sponsoring a spaghetti dinner benefit at 5 p.m. Saturday in St. Jude Parish Center. The cost will be a free-will offering, and silent and live auctions will be held.
The money will be used for medical expenses that are not covered by insurance, said his sister, Mary Pizzini.
John had to be convinced to have the benefit, she said. But friends wanted to help him out with bills that are mounting.
His family has been his rock since this began, he said.
Mary has always been willing to drive him to Great Falls for treatment when Kathryn has to work, he said.
His son, Rocky, a standout athlete and honor student at Havre High School, has been most supportive,” he said.
“I just want to be able to live to see him graduate from high school,” he said. “Of course, I’d love to see him go to college and get married, but that‘s something extra.”
Having some funds to pay the medical bills would relieve stress, he said. Being free of stress is the best thing he can do to feel better, he said.
And friends who have offered moral support have made things much easier on him.
Doug and Jane Warp have a son playing Blue Pony sports, and often they ride to away games together.
While some people don’t know how to talk about cancer, he said the Warps have been been willing to talk and listen since Day 1.
“Their moral support has been tremendous,” he said.
And the Kuhrs’ friends Terri and Gabe Matosich have also been there anytime they have a need.
“They have helped us so much during our time of difficulty,” he said.
Being able to attend Rocky’s sporting events is especially meaningful, he said.
“I want him to remember his dad as more than a guy being sick in bed,” he said.