In late 2020, after several months of feeling like something wasn't right, Choteau mayor Chris Hindoien went to a doctor, where they performed CT scan. Doctors found multiple masses in his neck and carotid area.
Hindoien was diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer, or throat cancer. It rocked his world but Hindoien immediately started documenting his cancer journey using his Facebook page 'Chris vs. Cancer'.
Two years later, Chris is preparing for his two year post-treatment PET scan in February.
Hindoien said, "I've been released by my medical oncologist. If the PET scan is clean, my radiological oncologist will move me out the door and call me healed."
Despite where he is in his cancer journey, he continues to reach out and uplift "cancer warriors" and their families and friends. "If you've got it, let's fight it. You're never alone. There's always people who'll reach out and give you a hand. If not, call me. My job affords me the opportunity to do a little traveling. I'll sit with you in an infusion center while you go through chemo. I'll hold your hand," the mayor says.
The mayor's mission not only includes outreach, but also advocacy for care, treatment, and research.
In September, he traveled to Washington D.C. to represent Montana at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS-CAN) Leadership Summit and Lobbying Day.
He met with US Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines, along with US Representative Matt Rosendale, in an effort to create bipartisan support for cancer funding through the CDC and National Institute for Health.
The federal government is the second largest funder for cancer research, behind the American Cancer Society.
"We asked them to sign on board and be bipartisan in passing the Medicare Early Detection Act, which is a blood test that's out there now that can show several different kinds of cancer in the system. It’s FDA-approved and it’s coming out. We want Medicare to be able to accept that right away," Hindoien explains. He also wants additional funding allocated to palliative care so cancer patients will not need to stress about the overwhelming financial burden that comes along with cancer. His end goal is to, of course, find a cure for cancer.
"Cancer made me a better person. It made me more aware, it made me softer. It's given me empathy," Hindoien said.
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