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Keeping up the fight: Marty Caneff is 30 months into his fight with brain cancer

The Caneff family of Hastings is pictured here. From left to right are Taylor, Marty, Margie, Lexi and Julia. Marty Caneff has a form of brain cancer, glioblastoma. A benefit to raise funds for the Caneffs is set for Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Hastings Country Club. Photo courtesy of Mary Kelly Photography

One morning in April 2010, Marty Caneff of Hastings had a bad headache. He couldn't shake it, and he told his wife Margie he just didn't feel right.

Within hours, the Hastings father of three was in an ambulance on his way to United Hospital. A CAT scan had revealed a tumor on his brain.

"It was horrible -- It was totally horrible," Margie Caneff said. "We didn't know what was going to happen. That's the day that our world changed. It was devastating, to say the least."

Just a week later, Caneff had brain surgery so doctors could remove as much of the tumor as possible, but the prognosis wasn't good. He had glioblastoma, about the worst kind of cancer you can get. The typical survivor can make it 18 to 24 months.

Caneff is beating the odds, having hit 30 months since his diagnosis.

Just after that brain surgery, he had six weeks of radiation and then 18 months of chemotherapy. That treatment left him with clean scans for about six months, but in May of this year, his symptoms returned and doctors found two new tumors on his brain. He has lost his sense of balance and his speech has been affected.

"It has been very hard, especially now," Margie Caneff said. "He's very unbalanced because of the tumors, and he's having a hard time moving around. It's hard for the girls and me to watch him."

Caneff had led a healthy life until that day 30 months ago. He was the girls hockey director in Hastings for five years, he coached hockey here for the past decade and coached each one of his girls. The Caneffs have three daughters - 16-year-old Taylor, 14-year-old Lexi and 11-year-old Julia.

In addition to being busy at the rink, Caneff loved to golf and work around the house.

"He never liked to sit around," Margie Caneff said. "He was always doing stuff around the house. He just can't do that stuff anymore."

Chemotherapy continues for Caneff every month. During the treatments, he is hospitalized for three days as the doctors do everything in their power to stop the tumors.

"The unfortunate thing with this type of tumor is that there's no proven treatment for it that works," Margie Caneff said.


Marty is the son of Ron and Vicki Caneff of Hastings. He graduated from Hastings High School in 1987, then went to Bemidji State University.

Margie, who graduated in 1989, followed Marty to Bemidji State. Her parents are Bernie and Kay Eischen.

The Caneffs were married in 1993.

Until his cancer came back in May, Marty Caneff worked at the Metropolitan Council's wastewater treatment plant in St. Paul as a business unit manager.

Margie Caneff is a certified public account with Radke & Mohrhauser in Hastings.

When Margie and Marty moved in across the street from Brian and Melany Radke about 11 years ago, the families struck up a strong friendship. Brian Radke and Marty Caneff became good friends and six years ago, Radke and his business partner hired Margie Caneff to work at their firm.

The families remain close as the Caneffs go through this battle with cancer. The Radke's son, Matthew, has cut the Caneffs grass for three summers.

Other neighbors, meanwhile, have trimmed shrubs.

Family members, friends and neighbors have dropped off meals and helped out in numerous other ways. A group of Margie Caneff's friends even came up with Marty's Fun Fund, a fundraiser they held to raise money so that he and Margie would have money to go on a vacation, or to go out to eat.

"It's just been overwhelming," Margie Caneff said. "It has just been unbelievable."


A benefit has been planned to help out the Caneff family. It will be from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Hastings Country Club. The admission fee is $20 in advance and $30 at the door.

There will be silent auction, a live auction, games, music, appetizers and a cash bar.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Busted Nut, Schommer Insurance, Emily's Bakery and Deli, MDK Design for Hair and Radke & Mohrhauser.

Anyone who has a silent auction item to donate, or funds to donate, is encouraged to stop at Radke & Mohrhauser, located at 215 Sibley Street in downtown Hastings.

So far, the response has amazed Radke.

"We can't believe it, even without asking, the stuff that's getting dropped off here," he said. "(On Monday), all of a sudden, a couple businesses came in. Here's a gift certificate for this. A gift basket. It has been pretty unreal."

Initially, Margie Caneff said that her husband was a bit apprehensive about the benefit, but his tune quickly changed, she said.

"Initially, I didn't know if Marty would want one," she said. "He thinks he can do everything himself. After he thought about it, he was excited he'd be able to see a lot of old friends he hasn't seen in a while. Now I think he's really excited for it."

While Brian and Melany Radke got the ball rolling for the benefit, they were quick to point out a committee of eight to 10 people has been doing all the work now. The committee includes family and friends, and everyone is in high gear as the benefit is just more than two weeks away.

For more information on the benefit, visit www.facebook. com/APartyForMarty.