Happy to be Back


When you last heard from me in my August 2022 column, I shared that I was going on medical leave because of a cancer diagnosis. At the time, I didn’t think I would write another column after my first CAT scan results.

Steve Freese, WECA President and CEO

My doctors told me I had stage 4 colon cancer, which had spread to my lungs, liver, and lymph glands, and filled my body cavity. They told me to get my affairs in order and start working on my bucket list in earnest. Following that scan, they scheduled a PET scan with a slightly more promising and accurate diagnosis. We evaluated treatment options, and a plan was put in place.

The diagnosis was a real punch in the gut since I had been seeing doctors since the previous October for walking pneumonia and Long COVID symptoms. However, at no point did I have any signs of colon cancer.

I will share with you that this diagnosis scared the heck out of me, and I didn’t think it was likely that I would make it to Christmas. But, I shared with my kids that I wasn’t afraid of dying because I knew where I would be going and for them to pray for me. I told them I would be sad not being able to see them and their life ahead of them, but we must play the hand we are dealt.

This is where prayer, my cancer doctor’s plan, and ultimately the medicine and treatments I received made a remarkable difference. I received my first chemo treatment on July 5. I received my twelfth and final one on December 21, and I am happy to report that the plan worked remarkably well.

I want to thank you, the readers of this magazine, who sent get-well cards and notes about my monthly column. I received almost 250 cards in the mail, each with personal messages of encouragement. I also received care packages and phone calls that lifted my spirits through these last 8 months, which made a huge difference in my recovery.

One reader from River Falls wrote:
I read about your experience with colon cancer, and am writing to send you my support as you go through treatment.

I always enjoy reading your column in the Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News. Your observations seem consistently fresh and relevant and are really helpful for someone who wants to keep abreast of current issues affecting rural electricity.

It was gratifying to see this since my goal in writing the column was to give you accurate information so you can make informed decisions affecting your electric cooperative.

Freese rang a bell to celebrate the end of his cancer treatment.
He returned to work on February 1 to office decorations and a staff lunch.

After my final treatment in December, they did another CAT scan. I am pleased that the prayers and medicine have worked since the cancer mass in my colon is gone. The cancer on my lungs, lymph glands, and body cavity is also gone, and only a small amount remains in my liver, which my doctor thinks is manageable. I was cleared to return to work on February 1 and am happy to be back. Again, I want to thank everyone for your support and prayers for me.