I’m a Survivor

If Bill Franzel had a theme song, it’d be I’m a survivor. The lifelong Bayfield County resident has endured several major healthcare scares including a heart attack that left 8 stents placed in his heart and colon and face cancer. But, perhaps none were as scary as the one he faced last year when he learned he had prostate cancer.

“I was told a PSA under five was normal. My PSA was above 26,” he says.

Bill immediately sought a consult, that lead to a treatment plan that centered around radiation. In the past, this would have involved hours in the car daily to receive treatment in Duluth. But, that all changed last summer when the Northwest Wisconsin Cancer Center of MMC opened.

“I had been following the construction of the cancer center,” he explains. “It was one of those things I was interested in watching but hoped I never would have to use.”

Instead, Bill became one of the first patients to receive radiation treatment from the center’s $4 million linear accelerator. The machine pinpoints the proper dose of radiation with extreme precision and is one of the most advanced in the region. It also gave Bill a better option, close to home.

“I estimate we saved about 4,000 miles on our car during my treatment,” he says. The shorter drive also allowed him to recover faster at home versus trying to navigate his illness with the added stress of finding transportation.

Today, Bill’s cancer is in remission and he’s making the most of life on his 500 acre spread in Mason. A long-time dairy and beef farmer, he’s since retired. But, he says busy exploring the farm with his Border Collie Bella, woodworking, cabinet building and bonding with his wife who recently underwent double hip replacement.

Bill hopes there is a cure for cancer someday soon. But in the meantime, he takes comfort in knowing there is a new option for his friends and neighbors who might someday get the dreaded cancer diagnose.

“I’m really pleased with the treatment I received. Everyone was so wonderful and treated me with such respect,” he says. “It really is a blessing to have this option in our community.”