WILLMAR — Mark Rew of Svea has been chosen as one of the honorary survivors for this year's Relay for Life, which is on July 21. The Relay for Life is an annual event which serves as the main fundraiser for the American Cancer Society in Kandiyohi County.
Rew was diagnosed with life-threatening brain cancer in December of 2014. The median survival rate for Rew's kind of cancer is about 15 months. Rew has survived for more than two years.
In early 2015, Rew had surgery to remove a large tumor in his brain. The surgery has caused memory loss and expressive aphasia, the partial loss of the ability to produce language, spoken or written.
Rew says the key to fighting cancer is a positive attitude.
"I'm positive on a lot of things," he said. "I don't get negative on things too often. That's probably half of it."
Rew has had three surgeries over the course of his treatment. He has also had physical therapy and occupational therapy. Rew was off treatment for about a year until last month when he started complaining about difficulties with his vision, said Judy Larson, Rew's caregiver. After a CAT scan, Rew has been back on treatment every other week.
When Rew receives chemotherapy treatments, the staff at the Willmar Regional Cancer Center at Rice Memorial Hospital run samples in the lab, which takes about an hour, and then administer the chemotherapy through an IV, which takes about half an hour. Including paperwork and other parts of the treatment, it takes a few hours.
"He's really gone through it all with a very positive attitude," Larson said.