Ernie and Tammy Hyman love to hike. It’s one of the Bethalto family’s favorite pastimes. So when Ernie’s shortness of breath was slowing him down, they decided he should get his heart checked out.
In January 2017, Ernie had a stress test and blood work drawn to find the problem. While the stress test did not show any problem, the blood work revealed he had a low blood count and more testing was ordered.
It turned out his heart was not the issue. It was his colon. Ernie had stage III colon cancer.
“When I heard the diagnosis, I took it hard for about 30 minutes but then decided – OK, let’s get after it.” Ernie said.
The treatment plan included surgery. And within a month of diagnosis, Ernie had a section of his colon removed by Dr. Paul Loethen and Dr. Michael Bonebrake, surgeons with OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony’s Health Center.
Over six months, Ernie had 12 systemic chemotherapy treatments, and is still undergoing another six months of maintenance chemotherapy.
After the surgery, Ernie was watching the movie “The Godfather” when he felt like God gave him a message.
“It was the part where the character of Johnny Fontane has trouble getting a part in the film,” Ernie said. “The godfather tells him to stop crying and act like a man, and tells him it will all go away in 30 days.”
Just as the godfather had explained, all his pain went away in 30 days, and he returned to work.
“So I kinda looked at it as – God, my Father – was speaking to me through that movie. It hit home with me.”
The correlation was real for Ernie because, like The Godfather, he wanted to protect his family.
“Seeing the fear in my children’s eyes when I was diagnosed, and knowing I was the cause of that fear, made me want to get better,” Ernie said. “I wanted to tell them everything would be fine.”
Ernie also credits the support and prayer he received from his family, friends and colleagues at Shop-n-Save and the high school softball team he coaches.
“I can feel the power of prayer upon me. Everyone is praying – people at church and the store,” Ernie said. “I never wanted to miss a day of work, a practice or a game. I didn’t want to feel like cancer was winning.”