PK's Conquering Cancer Story
A month after accepting his new call to St. Martins Lutheran Church-Winona Minnesota, Pastor Kath was diagnosed with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma cancer. Basically, he had a lump in his throat the size of a golf ball. Upon first notice, he simply dismissed it as swollen glands due to the stress and strain of moving. Even after hearing the bad and good news from his Doctor (bad-"It's not swollen glands. It's cancer!" good-"We think we can get it all!"), "I really thought this was going to just be a bump in the road. 7 weeks of chemo and radiation and back in the saddle! Little did I know!" After the 7 weeks, his x-rays revealed there still was some 'gray areas.' He was given the options: to let it go and watch it, or...have it cut out; a.k.a. throat surgery. PK chose the latter. Part of his tongue and right side neck were removed. Though cancer-free, August 1, 2005, PK had to resign his call at St. Martins due to numerous side effects from his treatment.
Side effects included an inability to eat, drink, and breathe properly. His Doctor intimated that his scar tissue damage to his throat was the worst he had seen in his 30-plus years as a Doctor. 14 esophageal stretches later, the problem not only remained but it was worsening. (mainly due to an over-production of saliva). At nights, his wife-Jody had to pound his back in order for him to get a breath and keep from passing out. After being rushed to ER in the early morning hours, PK finally decided to do what he absolutely dreaded most; have a trachea put in his throat. "I loved being a Pastor and I thought once I got a trachea put in, that would be it!" said PK. "What's been the hardest has been trying to live the words, 'Thy will be done.' They're so much easier just to say!" Currently, PK's over-abundance of saliva is controlled somewhat through medication. However, that medication had a side effect of its own; extreme drowsiness. He continues to struggle trying to find a happy medium between the two. The surgery also caused a condition called- fibrosis (a hardening of the tissue of the surgical area). This caused his head to slouch forward and greatly restricted its movement, peripheral vision and caused headaches and his feet and hands to turn blue from time to time.
"Though my situation in no way compares to Job's, I try to remember his words: 'The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the Name of the Lord!' And from the New Testament that suffering as a Christian and sharing in Jesus suffering is a privilege and a good thing. God is good! He's given me a new type of ministry where I can use my disability to help others. Plus, He allows me/us to see the good that's all around us; even in the face of cancer, life's worst trials, or life's mundane. Through Christ, we are more than conquerors and He fills us with His peace and joy. My prayer is this website can serve to bring praise and honor to His Name; comfort, strength, and encouragement to those in the faith, and (Lord willing) faith to those without. To God be the glory!"
Lyle Reuben Kath or PK as he's known by his former parishioners is married to Jody (secretary at their church-Immanuel Lutheran), and they have 2 grown chidren; Caris (Marovec) and Darian Kath, and 2 grandchildren; Alayna and Leah and reside in Wahpeton, N.Dak. PK has written 10 books; 3 of which are published; Conquering Cancer Through Faith in Christ (devotions that reflect on his bout with cancer), Psalm Psonnets (a book of poems-1 for each Psalm including numerous personal poems that he has written throughout his life) and Standing on the Promises (a book of both devotions and poems based on the promises of God). Currently, PK volunteers at his church visiting shut-ins and leading worship when their Pastor requests. PK also leads worship at 3 Nursing Homes in Breckenridge Wahpeton, and has provided Bible stories to a local Group Home with a power point and music. PK also leads a Sunday morning Bible study for the LYF, a Tuesday Men's Bible study at an Assisted living facility, and does Cottage (Home) Bible studies for groups of families. He also leads worship at area churches requesting a substitute. He currently serves as Advisor to the Fargo-Moorhead Lutherans for Life, and is a member of Wahpeton's American Legion. He also writes weekly devotions for LCMS Mission Central website and does a daily email ministry called, Pearls firstname.lastname@example.org contact him if interested in receiving. You may view his personal website for more information at www.pastorlylekath.com
At my biennial cancer check up, (first time at Sanford Hospital in Fargo), Doctors discovered some lesions in my throat where I first had cancer. They took a biopsy and it returned 'benign.' However, since I was unable to open my mouth wide enough, they called me back to do a 2nd biopsy, this time under sedation so they could stretch my mouth open to get a decent specimen. On 3/18/16, they called with the results. Doctors say my cancer has returned. He said it will take a major surgery. They would remove my tongue and larynx and then use other parts of my body for reconstruction. He also said this does not guarantee they will have gotten it all, or, that it will not return again. Another option is to make things as comfortable for me as possible without surgery. I'm not a candidate for radiation at this point. I hope to have my Mayo Dr. Kerry Olsen (long-time friend and Racquetball partner at the Rochester YMCA before my cancer) give a 2nd opinion and offer advice. Prayers appreciated, especially the prayer that never fails...'Thy will be done.' Since I don't know what I'll be doing just yet, I will keep you informed here. Thank you for all your love and support in times past. God's peace to you. I thank the Lord for the strength and ability He continues to give me.
2nd Opinion: My Doctors at Mayo looked at the same biopsy and xrays sent to them from Sanford Hospital. They also ran their little camera down my nose so they could look at my throat and beyond. In Fargo, they did this too and I could see all kinds of sores. But at Mayo, I could only see one. What happened to the sores and/or cancer? Judge for yourself. But in my humble opinion, I believe God, and His answer to prayer took care of it. That's not to say if the cancer was still there, He didn't answer prayers. Either way, His will was done, and it is always good! (April 2016)
But all glory and praise goes to Him and Him alone! His promise is sure: 'Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.' (updated March 2016)
"I am The Way, The Truth and The Life, no man comes unto The Father but by Me." (Jesus) John 14:6
"The joy of the Lord is my strength." Nehemiah 8:10b