Highland couple stays positive as they fight cancer together

News LeaderJuly 2, 2014 

STAYING POSITIVE — Ed and Darlene Wynne of Highland have stayed positive and relied on their faith as they both have battled cancer.

MARK HODAPP/NEWS LEADER

Ed and Darlene Wynne are a story of hope.

Ed was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in August 2007. At the time, he thought it was a death sentence. His dad had died from the same disease 30 years earlier.

But Ed, who was 69 at the time, fought it. He underwent 36 rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

“I still remember doctors telling Ed if he didn’t undergo chemotherapy, his chances of survival would be slim,” Darlene said. “But with chemo treatments, he had a 25 percent chance to live an additional two to three years.”

“It’s now been seven years,” Ed said and smiled.

Last December, Darlene began a fight of her own. She had her annual mammogram, a procedure she routinely gets completed around her birthday. In the past, her mammograms always came back fine. But her latest test results “came out of the blue,” she said.

She was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer that commonly affects women in their 70s. Darlene, 73, has since undergone a mastectomy.

Darlene’s three brothers, as well her dad, died from heart attacks. Her lone sister died from congestive heart failure. The Wynnes, however, know all about breast cancer and its complications. Ed’s mom succumbed to it. Their daughter, Kimberly Pfister, was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was just 38 years old. But Kimberly is a fighter, too.

“She has now been cancer-free for 16 years,” Darlene said. As if all that weren’t enough, in the last several months, Ed was diagnosed with prostate and colon cancer. But after surgery and treatments, he is now cancer-free.

“It’s a good thing we are strong and have a good sense of humor to get through it,” Darlene said.

The Wynnes also believe in the power of prayer.

“Ed shouldn’t be here,” Darlene said. “He’s lucky, and I am lucky to have him still in my life. He’s a miracle... But God certainly has a sense of humor.”

“That’s for sure,” Ed added and laughed.

Neither Ed nor Darlene cannot pinpoint how they contracted their various forms of cancer.

“You sometimes have to wonder,” said Ed, though, he was a pack-a-day smoker for 50 years before he quit in 2006.

“He finally got it through his thick skull, he had to quit smoking,” Darlene said.

Ed has worn many hats in life. He worked 25 years as a shift supervisor with Pfizer. He later went to work with an Anheuser-Busch subsidiary, where he was a machinist. He ended his career working as a janitor with the Highland School District and at Highland Hope United Methodist Church.

Ed weighed 240 pounds when he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He now weighs 148.

Both Ed, who will turn 75 in October, and Darlene, who was a homemaker, keep a positive outlook.

Darlene said Ed didn’t even cry after he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. She does remembers him saying he was afraid before he underwent his third and final surgery to treat his prostate cancer.

Darlene said she has tried to face her cancer battle with the same strength she has seen in those closest to her when they faced adversities.

“I have been pulling up my big girl britches to keep him going,” she said. “...I face everything with faith and humor. I think I learned that from my mom, who raised my brothers and sister after my dad died when I was 4 1/2-years-old.

“I’m now constantly on Ed to smile and be happy. I believe Ed is still here for a reason. He may be here just to teach people that life doesn’t go always as planned.

“...Some people can always look around and see things worse, but when I look around, I always see things being better. My plate is always half full.”

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