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Konkoleski remains hopeful for future

Jeff Konkoleske, WPBHS athletic director, first noticed symptoms in August, 2017. Konkoleski couldn’t eat and felt sick all the time. “At first the doctors thought it was gallstones, so they removed his gall bladder,” stated Brenda.

            When the symptoms continued, he decided to meet with a doctor for further testing including a colonoscopy which indicated he had colorectal cancer.  

            In January 2018, Konkoleski was referred to a group in Omaha that specialized in colorectal cancer surgery. He had additional tests done, but he did not show the typical symptoms of colorectal cancer.

However, the tests did show that his cancer was stage 3 meaning it had grown into the walls of the colon, and it began to affect his lymph nodes.

The tumor needed to be removed, but it was too large so he began six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Treatments were Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday were his rest days. This initial treatment shrunk the tumor, and they planned to surgically remove it.

             In May, things were looking very good for Jeff, “Mr. K. has always been very optimistic” said Brenda, his wife.

Konkoleski stayed in the hospital longer than expected, but it was unrelated. The doctors were concerned about a possible infection. He did not have an infection, but they saw something on his liver that did not look right.

            Scans done in July found spots on his liver, meaning it was stage 4 cancer which is incurable. His next treatment was two months of first line chemotherapy; it did not work as well as anticipated.

            The tumor continued to grow. They went to Atlanta to get the spots on his liver removed, but they found that the cancer had spread to his spine, ribs, and pelvis.

            He began taking an oral chemotherapy pill which had a side effect of neuropathy. It caused him to lose the feeling in his hands and feet, and drinking cold liquids felt like an electric charge. The feeling has not returned to his feet.

            He took the pill until January of this year. The treatments did not stop the cancer from spreading.

He went to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, and they referred him to a clinical trial which tests drugs that have not been FDA approved.

The school and community have helped the Konkoleski family greatly. The kids received extra Christmas gifts from teachers.

            As of now, because of the large tumor growing on his hip, Konkoleski has to use a wheelchair at home because he can’t’ walk.

            Jeff has always said, “Cancer sucks, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”

            The fight continues as Konkoleski will travel to Texas for more treatments.


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