When Tom Schuller was four years old, he was diagnosed with polio. He remembers very little of his two weeks at HSHS St. Vincent Hospital during that time in the early 1950s, but he learned an important lesson following his recovery.
“I have an attitude that any time I get sick, I will conquer it,” said Tom.
That attitude proved important in May 2016 when Tom went to his dentist to be fitted for new dentures. It was then that his dentist noticed a sore on Tom’s gum. Though Tom had noticed it in the past, he says he hadn’t thought much of it. His dentist, though, was concerned enough to send him to a surgeon at Prevea.
Following a biopsy, Tom learned he had stage IV tonsillar cancer.
Though many may have felt sorry for themselves, Tom immediately told his cancer team “we’re going to conquer this.”
And he did.
Following 33 radiation treatments, six chemotherapy treatments (which Tom says he actually enjoyed thanks to the warm blankets, nice recliner and remote control television), and surgery to remove his lymph nodes, Tom was deemed cancer free.
“Hearing that lifted a huge weight off my shoulders,” Tom said. “The staff at the HSHS St. Vincent Hospital Cancer Centers are God’s angels sent down here to help people.”
One year after his cancer-free diagnosis, Tom is doing well, practicing his speech and following a mostly liquid diet. But nothing stops him from enjoying life. In fact, he and his wife, Bonnie, have big plans that include enjoying their recently restored 1890’s Victorian home in Kewaunee, maintaining their 17 flower beds filled with thousands of tulips and daffodils, and completing a bucket list full of travel plans.
“I take everything one day at a time,” Tom said.