The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 18, 2014

For Jonathan Zierdt, the hard part is over

GMG leader needs to wait until April 14 to exercise

MANKATO — It's not over, of course.

There's still the recovery, the soreness, the fatigue. He still has to have follow-up testing in May on his kidney and again in June on his prostate.

But Jonathan Zierdt is out of the woods for the most part. And he's a changed man because of it.

"Before my diagnosis, I didn't know what this meant for anyone," Zierdt said from the near-empty offices of Greater Mankato Growth, where he serves as CEO. "I think I just accepted it before. I didn't have that shared empathy. But now ... I don't want anybody to have to experience this."

The Free Press has been following Zierdt's progress through what has been the most trying time of his life: the diagnosis of both prostate and kidney cancers. A few weeks ago he had the third of three surgeries during the course of two months. He's spent 16 days in the hospital. He has 11 scars in his abdomen.

He's struggling right now to regain his pre-surgery energy and activity level. And he's not fully back to work. Much of the GMG staff was in St. Paul on Tuesday for Mankato Day at the Capitol. Uncharacteristically, Zierdt stayed home for it.

"I want to be there, helmet on, running full steam," Zierdt said. "But I know that I can't."

Zierdt's most recent surgery wasn't without surprises.

He wound up with an infection that his doctors said was the result of his abdomen being "very angry" — three surgeries are hard on a body, especially when they're all in the same area, his doctor told him. Also, he found out his prostate cancer was a bit worse than he or his doctors had predicted.

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