Joe's Cancer Fight

My husband, Joe  Leichtnam, was diagnosed with prostate cancer on Christmas eve of 2016.  Beginning in 2012, his PSA (prostate specific antigen) was elevated and the doctors began testing every 6 months .  After going through 24 biopsies over a 4 year period and watching his PSA go from 3.8 to 15.3 & another set of 12 biopsies suggested by the doctor in Rapid City, a very frustrated Joe asked for a referral to another doctor.  He was referred to Dr. Christopher Warlick at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in October and began testing on December 11, 2016.  An MRI suggested 3 areas of concern & after taking 16 biopsies, they found cancer in 3 quadrants of his prostate, with the worst located at the apex. With a Gleason score of 7 ( high intermediate stage ), Joe had to weigh the options between surgery or radiation. After consulting with both radiologists and surgeons, Joe elected to undergo surgery with a full radical prostatectomy. What was expected to take 5 1/2 -  6 hours nearly doubled in scope to 10 hours, when the doctors found cancer outside the prostate that had not been seen in pre-tests. Joe faced complications after surgery from anesthesia causing inabilty to move his fingers and numbness all the way up to his shoulder. This has improved with time but is still a detriment. Since cancer was found outside of the prostate & due to surgical complications, Joe will need 6 weeks of daily radiation when Dr. Warlick feels necessary, based on testing to take place on the 20th of June. We will be going back to the University of Minnesota for the ELEVENTH time since December and will develop a treatment plan to start radiation.
As you can imagine, the expense of traveling to and from Minneapolis at over 1250 miles round trip along with a high deductible & loss of income, expenses are surpassing our ability to survive. I have been able to use FMLA ( family medical leave ), but have depleted all of my paid accumulated leave & my income is significantly less than it would normally be with taking time to be with Joe at his appointments as needed.

On top of that, Joe was injured on the job in August of 2007 & suffered a TBI ( traumatic brain injury ) and several bulged and herniated discs in his neck and back.  He suffers from nerve damage in his right side, which causes weakness in his arm and leg & a drop foot which makes it difficult for him to walk normally. He continues to experience temporary loss of function in his right side. This requires Joe have quarterly shots for pain management, but with all that he has been dealt, he continues to persevere  & have faith in the Lord. He does his best to remain positive and is still a support system for others in need.

Joe has always been an active volunteer & the cancer has slowed him down or limited his ability to participate. He misses working with the groups he has enjoyed in the past. For over 25 years he has been active with RC&D ( Resource Conservation & Development Association ) at the local, state, regional & national levels. Joe has served several terms as President for the Western RC&D and still acts as Western delegate to the National RC&D board of directors. His proudest accomplishments include the development of a scholarship fund & acting as the sponsoring RC&D for the " Heifers for South Dakota " project, following winter storm Atlas.

Joe has been a donor of platelets & plasma since moving to Rapid City & has given 240+ donations of platelets and plasma for the United Blood Services.  He has also served as a volunteer & chairman for Ducks Unlimited and also volunteers for several other chapters.  Joe would give the shirt off his back to a neighbor, friend or complete stranger. 

 We are very grateful to the University of Minnesota Healthcare system and especially, Dr. Warlick who performed such a challenging surgery.

 All funds received will be used to help us cover travel expenses, deductibles & medical expenses incurred over the time of diagnosis through future treatment. 

We feel truly blessed to have family and friends who have offered up their support, thoughts and prayers.  We want to extend our gratitude to anyone who can help us financially through this very difficult time in our lives.   Thank you and God bless you all. 

Please follow our journey on facebook  or at

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Cathy Leichtnam 
Rapid City, SD