CATLIN — Rick Kinder sees every day as a gift.
The Catlin man noticed in February he was ending his day as an ironworker a bit more tired than usual.
“I’ve always been healthy,” he said. “I seldom went to the doctor. I didn’t even have a personal physician. We had worked on the wind farm in Paxton and in November (2011) we started building the Busey School in Savoy. We were doing a lot of heavy lifting and I noticed I was feeling more tired and weaker than usual.
Then he found the lump in his abdomen.
“It just kind of showed up,” he said. “The more I thought about it, the more I thought, ‘This is not right.’”
“You never told me about that,” said his wife, Ava, as the couple sat at the dining room table in their Catlin home.
“I was used to living with aches and pain,” he said. “But I thought this should be checked. So, I called the Carle clinic and talked to a nurse. Since I didn’t have a physician, she said to just come in to the ER and ‘we’ll go from there.’”
He told Ava about his appointment just after 10 p.m. the night before. Just two weeks after his 62nd birthday, Kinder had no idea the next day would begin a difficult medical journey.
He checked into the emergency room — pulling his hood up so fellow ironworkers busy on a project nearby wouldn’t recognize him — and started a series of tests. The procedures lasted 10 hours and ended with Kinder being admitted to the oncology ward.
“My doctor was an expert in blood cancer. She thought it was mantle cell lymphoma right from the beginning,” Kinder said.
Dr. Maria Grosse Perdekamp’s first impression proved to be correct after the test results came back. Mantle cell lymphoma is the rarest of the non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. There are an estimated 15,000 people in the United States with the disease. Men are four times more likely than women to develop it, and the disease usually strikes those who are age 60 and older. Because it has few symptoms, it usually is not detected until it has reached an advanced stage.