Les Green

Colon Cancer Survivor

With a flair for understatement, Alan Leslie “Les” Green, pastor of Salem United Methodist Church in Council Bluffs, describes the health crisis that included the unwelcome gift of a cancer diagnosis on his sixtieth birthday. The year was 2012. The diagnosis was colon cancer. Retelling the story of that “bumpy year,” Les shrugs off the numerous complications and rigors of treatment. He smiles when others might frown, chuckles when others might weep.

One weekend in February 2012, Les went to the Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital Emergency Department for treatment of what he assumed was a severe case of constipation. “A blockage in my bowel was diagnosed,” Les explains, “and I was rushed straight into surgery.” Doctors removed nine inches of Les’ colon and five lymph nodes. “Literally, on the day of my sixtieth birthday, my oncologist and my surgeon, Dr. John Okerbloom and Dr. Michael Zlomke, confirmed that I had stage III colon cancer,” Les remembers. The diagnosis was a complete surprise. Les had had no other symptoms or health issues.

The Greens learned that surgery had given Les a 50 percent chance of recovery from the cancer, and chemotherapy would raise his chance to 70 percent. As he tallies the math, Les smiles, saying, “That’s where prayer particularly comes in, not only with the effectiveness of what has already happened, but to cover the other 30 percent.”

Les began a regimen of chemotherapy at Heartland Oncology & Hematology at Methodist Jennie Edmundson, where he would sit with his laptop, busily working on sermons and church business during his IV infusions. At the end of each session, he left with a small chemotherapy pump attached to his belt.

Les’ care team at Methodist Jennie Edmundson Cancer Center coordinated the delicate balance of treatment needed to give Les his best chance for full recovery. They worked to kill any cancer cells in Les’ body with chemotherapy without overstressing organs still healing from the initial cancer surgery.

Les says, “I was so blessed, by our A-Team: Dr. Zlomke and Dr. Okerbloom. Together with their obvious medical and surgical skills and specialities, they are people who radiate positivity, faith and confidence. I have been declared well, fit and clear of cancer. I thank God and all His ministering angels!”