MANKATO — It was a heck of a way to get the news.
But there he was, pulled over on the side of a county road between Mankato and St. Clair, listening to his doctor speak words he’d never dreamed of hearing.
“She said, ‘I’m not gonna lie. You’ve got kidney cancer, and it doesn’t look good,’” said Brian Shoemaker, who works at the Blue Earth County Jail.
That doctor also told Shoemaker to head straight to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and to not stop home first. They’d probably operate right away, she’d said.
At that moment, a lot of people might have switched spots with their spouse and let them drive. Not Shoemaker. He took a minute to think but then hit the road, en route to a life-changing couple of weeks in St. Marys Hospital.
That was two years ago. Today, Shoemaker is changed man. He’s cancer free. He also has an outlook on life that eluded him prior to his illness.
His troubles began months prior to the event that ultimately drove him to seek medical attention.
He’d been experiencing swelling in his legs and general fatigue. He attributed it to the nature of his work, being on his feet a lot and dealing with inmates at the jail.
But when it didn’t get better, his wife decided it was time to get it checked out.
On Jan. 24, 2011, after his shift and after a night’s sleep, he awoke to find his wife still home. Normally, she’d be gone and off to work. But she called in for a day off that day and told her husband they were gong to urgent care at East Ridge.
At urgent care they did blood and urine tests, but initial results found nothing. So they ordered a CT scan. Before sending him home, the doctor asked for his cell number. Then she asked for his wife’s cell number.