By Steve Kuntz
In 2007, Steve and Kathy Kuntz decided to move to Ballantine. In that journey their lives took a major turn. As they started building their home while living out of a 26-foot camper trailer, Kathy started having health problems.
That fall, after several trips to Billings hospitals, doctors told her she had irregular bowel syndrome, which has no cure.
Steve would watch his loving wife of 28 years try to sleep with the pain. Almost daily, she had diarrhea and her whole body would turn bright red for a short time. Doctors told Kathy she must be allergic to something.
In the fall of 2008, while getting checked for allergies, a tumor flushed in front of the doctor. A colonoscopy revealed that it was a carcinoid tumor. The couple was told it would not respond to treatment and had to be removed, or Kathy would die in about a month. With that news, an operation date was set up as quickly as possible.
The morning of the surgery, while Kathy was getting prepped with family members, someone mentioned the word “carcinoid” to the anesthesiologist. He excused himself for a bit, then returned to the family to say that in his 30-year career that’s the second time he had to consult his book. He explained that when disturbed, this cancer releases a chemical that lowers blood pressure so low it could be deadly. A serum was administered during the surgery to fight off the flushing of the tumor.
After the surgery, the doctor came out, formed a circle the size of a dinner plate and said he took that much out for a tumor the size of a peanut M&M.
Later, while the house was under construction, Kathy lived in motels, the 26-foot camper, and finally a room in the unfinished house. The day before surgery, Kathy had thought that it was the last day she’d see her family. Steve asked for her wedding ring, took a hammer and nail, and hung it on an unfinished 2×4 in the house, saying it would be waiting for her after surgery because she was coming back home.
To this day Kathy is still cancer-free and enjoying life. Steve wrote this from deep inside to let others know that carcinoid tumors show signs; look for flushing and have doctors do a 24-hour urine test to detect it.