The Free Press, Mankato, MN


January 12, 2014

For optimistic Zierdt, the fight is on

GMG president dealing with cancer diagnosis


It was as this point that Zierdt's physical condition had deteriorated the most. He was septic (which, left untreated, can be fatal) and doctors had to inject him with a saline concoction called “ice” to lower his body temperature. He was incoherent. Luckily, he was in the hospital when he lost consciousness and drifted off.

He hesitates to call it a near-death experience. But Zierdt is clear about what he saw. He describes seeing a white light, but it was off in the distance. And when he regained consciousness, he said, medical staff had stabilized him. His fever would remain for another 48 hours, but he felt better. And peaceful.

“It's hard to explain, but it was in those seconds that I saw that light that I was granted the patience,” he said. “I just felt calm.”

Hard story to tell

Up until this point, neither he nor Ginger had said anything to their families about Jonathan's cancer. But the time had come. And this phase of their journey would open up a part of their lives they couldn't have predicted.

Zierdt's father was diagnosed with prostate cancer seven years ago. Zierdt remembered his reaction as one of, OK, so let's have the surgery and take the medicine and cure it and move on.

“Not until I had my own health scare did I realize that I could have handled things so much differently,” he said.

It was actually Ginger who made the call to Zierdt's parents. At this point, they knew nothing of the prostate cancer, the kidney cancer, the dangerous fever, the septic shock, the hospitalization.

“I called his dad and said, 'I need to tell you a story,'” Ginger said. “And as I started telling it, I could tell he just knew.”

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