Volunteer, cancer survivor kicks off relay
Many days, passersby on city streets see Dick Larson mowing lawns, chipping wood for the Lions Club and helping out in a myriad of ways.
This Friday, Larson will clutch an American Cancer Society Relay For Life banner as he and other cancer survivors walk a Lap of Hope around the track at Cozad High School.Larson, 74, is an honorary Relay For Life chairperson from Gothenburg.
Joining him from other Dawson County communities are Bill Andres and Paul McGinnis of Cozad and Bea King of Lexington.
Larson’s bout with cancer began 10 years ago when a doctor, during a routine physical exam, felt a nodule on his thyroid.
Surgery in North Platte was scheduled with the plan to remove and biopsy the part of the thyroid with the growth.
The retired postal employee said he remained under anesthesia in case the surgeon needed to remove the entire organ.
“It was malignant so he did,” Larson said.
Irradiated iodine treatment followed, where he took a capsule daily to kill off any surviving thyroid particles.
Since the surgery, Larson takes medicine every day to replace the function of his thyroid.
As far as being chosen as the Relay For Life chairperson from Gothenburg, Larson said he doesn’t feel deserving.
“A lot of people have been through severe treatment,” he said. “I’m an example of early detection.”
His wife, Connie Larson, is a 15-year survivor of breast cancer.
“She underwent surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and 10 years of medication. She also lost her hair,” Larson said. “So many people are taking involved treatment and have a lot of personal discomfort.”
Larson said he and Connie feel that the Relay For Life is a worthy cause.
“For the 15 years we’ve been involved with cancer, we’ve seen so many improvements and changes in treatment,” he explained. “Chemotherapy has become so personalized, they have treatments specific to each kind of cancer.
“Cure rates have increased.”
More drugs, to keep people comfortable while going through treatment, are also on the market.
For example, Larson said there are now nausea- and fatigue-fighting drugs that weren’t available when Connie was undergoing chemotherapy.
Since retiring from the postal service, Larson has become more involved in the Lions Club and their efforts to raise money for scholarships through the splitting and selling of firewood.
Larson is also involved at the Gothenburg Historical Museum where he helps set up displays, maintains the lawn, volunteers and more.
He also maintains the lawn at the United Methodist Church and helps son-in-law Dirk Rubenthaler ranch and farm.