In the summer of 1992, Larry Fischer was diagnosed with stage three head and neck cancer. After 35 radiation treatments doctors gave Larry two to five years left to live. But Larry is either one incredible fighter or just incredibly stubborn.
"20 years, October 29th was my anniversary." Said Fischer.
Larry has not just defied the odds, he's flat out ignored them.
To treat his cancer, Larry was put through aggressive radiation treatments even by today's standards. Doctors and nurses who worked with Larry 20 years ago can't believe the man in the waiting room is their Larry Fischer.
"In fact I grabbed him and said, is it really you Larry? That was my reaction because that was a long time!" Said Radiation Oncologist Dr. Eric Mendoza.
"To survive 20 years it's amazing!" Said Radiation Therapist Valrae Miller.
Miller was by Larry's side through every radiation treatment. In her field, positive outcomes don't always happen, which makes Larry's surprise a welcome one.
"When they do come back and we do have success stories it just makes our life so much better and our job so much easier!" Said Miller.
Because of the cancer, Larry can't taste or smell. He's also lost the ability to regrow his once full beard. But his close call has taught him to appreciate the little things and to go after his dreams.
"I met an old friend from when I was younger and he's allowed my to put a horse on his ranch so I now have a horse! my first bucket list!" Said Fischer.
While his horse is just one accomplishment, Larry is extremely grateful to the Avera St. Luke's staff for giving him the opportunity to experience several life changing moments over the past two decades.
"I got to spend 20 more years with my wife and best friend, I saw my daughter graduate from high school, then I saw my son graduate from college, got to walk my daughter down the aisle when she got married, I attended my son's wedding, and now I have four lovely grandchildren, Jocelyn, Jadyn, Anya, and Catherine." Said Fischer.
Larry is a living example of how a diagnosis is just that, a diagnosis. And for others out there who have been touched by cancer, Larry says look at him and be encouraged to keep fighting and never, ever give up.
"It's not a death sentence, keep hope because if you give up hope you're not going to make it, pray and have people pray for you and trust your caregivers! They're here because they're here to do things for you and at Avera they do it very well!" Said Fischer.
As if cancer wasn't enough, Larry has also survived a stroke. Their stubborn nature must run in the Fischer family because Larry's brother is also defying brain cancer. Several reasons to be thankful.
For more information about this story and cancer treatment, just call 877-AT-AVERA.