Hastings man squares off against cancer again
Five years ago, longtime Hastings resident Dave Nyman got some of the worst news he could get. He had kidney cancer – a softball sized tumor on his right kidney.
But treatment at the time went well. He had surgery to remove the entire kidney, and doctors believed the cancer was contained to that one spot.
“They thought they had it all,” Dave said.
And for a few years, everything was fine. For the first three years, he had to go in for frequent scans to make sure there was no recurrence. He got an all-clear then, which meant he would only have to scan for cancer every two years.
Things turned the wrong direction earlier this year, in March.
“He was tired more,” his wife, Stephanie recalled. And that was a red flag to his family.
“He’s the one who’s got the energy,” she said.
In May, he met with his girls in Florida, and the change in his condition was plain.
“He didn’t look good,” Stephanie said.
He had been through a heart attack, though, so the family at first thought that maybe something was wrong with his heart. But doctors confirmed the worst in June. The cancer was back, and it had spread to his pancreas and liver; it was at stage III.
Dave is now on the third of three treatment options. The first seemed to be working, but then stopped. The second was too rough on Dave.
“That just turned me inside-out,” he said.
Now, he’s three treatments into a new cancer drug. Although it hasn’t been FDA approved for renal cancer, it has been approved for other types of cancer, and it’s expected to get approval for renal cancer soon, said Krista, one of the couple’s three daughters. The treatment in general has had good results. It’s a type of immunotherapy, Dave explained. It works by trying to convince the body’s own immune system to attack cancer cells.
It’s too early to tell yet how Dave’s cancer is responding, and doctors have warned him that the first changes might not be to anyone’s liking.
“It could get worse before it gets better,” Stephanie said.
Still, it seems to be his best chance.
“This (treatment) has an opportunity to give me some years,” Dave said.
Living with cancer
Dave and his family have come to an understanding that, at this point, cancer will be a constant concern for the rest of his life.
“He will likely be on something the rest of his life,” Krista said.
Doctors don’t have a cure for him, and at this point, treatment is focused on keeping the cancer in check as long as possible.
There’s already been substantial disruption to Dave’s normal life. He’s been working as a barber here since 1978 and currently owns the barber shop section of The Style Makers, alongside Barb Keene, who owns the salon portion. He has lots of loyal customers, but he’s already had to cut his hours there by about half due to the fatigue from treatment. He’s grateful, he said, for the help of Keene, who’s stepped up to help with his business in his absence.
“Barb’s really been a big help at work,” Dave said.
Coping with Dave’s diagnosis hasn’t been easy on anyone in the family, but some of the side effects aren’t all bad.
“We’ve grown closer,” Krista said.
The family has always been close, Stephanie said, but now they’re even more so. Family has become the top priority. The three girls often stop in at home to have lunch with their father, they’ve been to every treatment and they help handle the many phone calls that now have to be answered.
Support has come from outside the family, too.
“The (support) network has been really good,” Dave said.
“We really have found some wonderful people,” Stephanie said.
Nowadays, the family has a new weekend tradition that involves lots of people, snacks and sports.
“Every Sunday, we have family and friends who show up to watch the game,” Stephanie said.
The family thanked all those who have offered their help, kind words and prayers throughout the process.
There’s another way for people to help the Nyman family coming up in January.
On Jan. 16, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., there will be a fundraiser chili feed, raffle and silent auction at Dugarel’s Bar and Grill, along Highway 61 in south Hastings. The cost to get in is $20, and a $10 wristband gets visitors free drinks from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The funds raised at the event will be used to offset the costs of Dave’s medical bills.
A fund has also been set up at First National Bank (Dave Nyman fund), and online donations can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/ja9e9kys. To donate items for the raffle or silent auction, email email@example.com or call Krista Nyman at 651-334-1550 or Jenna Nyman at 651-283-4817.
Dave is still coming to terms with receiving so much help from others.
“It’s weird having the generosity,” he admitted.
But that could just be because he’s used to being on the other end.
“He’s the type of person who does everything for everybody else,” Krista said.