Source: Ryan Alves, The News-Enterprise
In 21 years working in Hardin Memorial Hospital’s radiation department, Mary Ann Squires had never helped anyone so close to her heart.
That was until the day her husband, Scott, started radiation treatments for colon cancer at HMH.
“It was very emotional,” Mary Ann said. “But also very calming because I knew what kind of care he wasn’t going to get. We never thought about going anywhere else.”
Scott, who’d always been in good health and has never had any surgeries, said his cancer came out of nowhere.
“I turned 50 last March and all of a sudden was having some problems with going to the bathroom frequently,” Squires said. “So I went to my family physician, who did some blood work. I then had a colonoscopy done. When I came out of the procedure, I was told there was a tumor.”
Fear immediately set in for the Squires family.
“Anytime you hear the word ‘cancer’ that stirs a lot of emotions. I’m not any different,” Scott said. “There were tears, and you start thinking about if you’re going to get to see your kids married or not. It was pretty tough at the beginning.”
From there, Scott said he turned to his wife and her colleagues at HMH, most importantly radiation oncologist Dr. Richard Seither.
“I was fortunate that my wife is a radiation therapist and I’ve known Dr. Seither for about 25 years,” Scott said. “They were able to calm me down and assured me about what was going to happen. Then we started the process.”
The process was long and grueling, Scott said.
But Mary Ann was there every day, calming her husband and assisting her team, Scott said.
“We did 28 treatments with chemo pills on top of it,” he said. “The first 13 or 14 were a piece of cake. Then I hit a wall. It was painful and it hurt. I won’t tell anyone it doesn’t. But I made it through.”
In November, Scott had surgery for an ostomy bag, which was successful.
“That was harder than I thought, too,” Scott said. “I think I lost 26 pounds.”
“I don’t recommend the weight loss program I was on,” he joked. “But I am back to my fighting weight.”
After that, another round of chemotherapy was administered as a preventative measure.
“I eventually bounced back. And now I’m just waiting on the reversal surgery to take out the ostomy bag and hook me back up,” he said.
Scott said he thinks the surgery will happen in April.
“Right now I feel good. I feel fine. Just waiting on the surgery,” he said.
Scott, a fourth-and-fifth-grade teacher at Lincoln Trail Elementary School for the last nine years, eventually was forced to stop working during his treatments.
He now has returned to teaching.
“I love teaching. I love just being around the kids,” he said. “It keeps me young. Or acting young, anyway.”
This past winter Squires also rejoined the sidelines as an assistant coach for the Central Hardin High School boys’ basketball team, who recently completed their season.
He’s looking forward to getting back to his duties as an assistant coach with the Bruin baseball team.
“Right now I’m still limited in what I can do,” he said. “I used to love hitting infield, throwing batting practice, but now I’m working in a consulting role the majority of the time. I hope to be back at full strength next year without any restrictions.”
Scott said the support he received from his students, colleagues and players made quite the difference in his fight.
“That probably pushed me through,” he said.
T-shirts were made in his honor that said “Squires Strong. Bruins fight together!” and featured a blue cancer ribbon.
“He told me once it was kind of embarrassing to see the kids wear the shirts,” Mary Ann said. “But I told him, not to feel that way. That’s the way they want to honor you.”
Hundreds of students at Lincoln Trail also wrote Squires get-well cards.
Mary Ann decided to turn them into Christmas ornaments this year on the family tree.
“We haven’t taken it down and we still plug it in. We’re not done yet, but we’re getting there,” she said.
Scott said it’s a daily reminder that you can’t fight cancer alone.
“Without a strong support system, you won’t make it,” he said. “I was never the type of guy to stop and ask for directions. But I learned that you need to lean on people. You can’t do it yourself. You have to accept the help, accept people bringing you food and accept the prayers.”
While awaiting his surgery, Scott and Mary Ann have been busy cheering on a son, Troy, who is a catcher for the University of Kentucky baseball team.
Their oldest son, Ryan is a recent graduate of Campbellsville University and their daughter, Erika, is a student at Lindsey Wilson College.
“I try to do normal as much as possible,” Scott said. “We’ve scheduled some trips to follow my son at UK. I enjoy that.
“I’m also looking forward to the summer because I haven’t been able to play golf yet,” he added. “I think I’ll have a different appreciation for it. And won’t get so upset anymore.”
With March being colon cancer awareness month, Scott wonders if his situation arose for a reason.
Scott said he’s already had a male colleague tell him they have a colonoscopy scheduled.
“I thought to myself, that’s probably why I got it,” Scott said. “This person is now getting going because he knows someone it happened to. I truly believe everything happens for a reason.”
Scott finishes his story urging others to get a screening, as well.
“I’ve joked about it, but turning 50 saved my life,” he said. “You don’t think these things happen to guys like me. But they do. And if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.”
Ryan Alves can be reached at 270-505-1746 or email@example.com.