Earlier this summer, Campus Pastor Randy Heckert was undergoing a routine procedure at the doctor’s office when two masses were discovered in his esophagus. A few weeks later, Pastor Randy was diagnosed with stage 2A esophageal cancer.
Esophageal cancer is broken down into four different stages, each having their own characteristics, sublevels and risks. Thankfully, the masses were found while the cancer was still in stage two. Esophageal cancer has no visible symptoms.
Last Tuesday, Pastor Randy entered a 5.5-hour surgery at the Cleveland Clinic where they took out most of his esophagus and lymph nodes. A team specializing in this type of cancer was operating on him, lead by a surgeon who is internationally known. “He’s in good hands,” said Director of Campus Ministries Linda Leon.
After surgery, Pastor Randy gave the thumbs up and wrote “piece of cake” on a notepad. “He’s in really good spirits,” said Spiritual Life Director Kelly Klein.
Kelly had the chance to speak with Pastor Randy before he left for the hospital. “I asked him to paint a picture of how he was feeling,” she said. “He told me it felt like he was at a concert, there were flashing lights everywhere and everyone was excited about something. Suddenly, hundreds of hands were lifting him up and he was body surfing.”
Linda Leon and the rest of campus ministries is operating under the assumption that Pastor Randy will be returning in November or early December. “As a community I hope that we’ll remember him throughout the semester, not just now when it’s fresh in our minds,” said Leon.
Pastor Randy will be spending 10-14 days in a special ward in the Cleveland Clinic and will be on a feeding tube for 6 weeks. Esophageal cancer has a lot of potential complications. “It’s like jumbling up a bunch of organs,” said Leon.
Pastor Randy may be facing a difficult journey, but according to campus ministries he is resting in God’s hands. Pastor Randy told Linda Leon that “it’s my turn to walk attentively to what God has for me, and what He has to teach through this.”
Abigail Skiba Editor-in-Chief and contributing writer for The Aviso.