(TGN shared from link above where actual testimony was shared)
Little Falls man sees miracle when terminal cancer disappears
June 18, 2014
By Jennie Zeitler, Correspondent
Loni, left, and Steve Pantzke say they have experienced a miracle. After being told his cancer was terminal, doctors have now found it has disappeared.
When Steve Pantzke’s doctor told him in May that his cancer was gone, he experienced more than the euphoria that would be expected when a person hears news like that. At his previous doctor visit in February, he had been told his cancer was terminal and there was nothing doctors could do. Between those two medical appointments, Pantzke had not received any treatments. He had gone home to come to terms with his illness. But even while no one here on earth was actively working for his recovery, Steve and his wife, Loni, said they have seen firsthand that God never stops working.
“We are grateful,” said Loni. “We believe in the power of prayer. Many of our neighbors, friends, family, our congregation and many other churches have been praying.”
Steve began dating Loni Wimmer in high school.
“I had a crush on him for years, and he on me,” Loni said.
They had a habit of both sitting in the driver’s seat of Steve’s 1964 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport.
“We were a lot skinnier then,” Loni said with a grin.
“One night we were pulled over while leaving the Ballroom,” said Steve. “All the officer said was, he wanted to know which one of us was driving.”
Steve joined the Marines right out of high school in 1968 and was sent to Vietnam. He returned to the States in 1969 and proposed to Loni in the front yard of her parents’ house.
“I gave her an engagement ring and she got all giddy,” he said.
They were married May 1, 1971 at St. James in Randall.
“It was just a great day,” said Steve. “It was the best day of my life. She’s been my angel.”
The Pantzke family grew to include four children: Jennifer, Matt, Andrew and John.
But as life sometimes goes, it wasn’t all a bed of roses.
“Life has given us a lot of bad things, including a garage fire, losing a house in a shrub fire and a tornado ripping off the shop roof and taking machinery,” Loni said. “There were ‘millions of snakes’ on the property, and Steve’s health issues.”
“Whatever we’ve been through made us stronger,” Steve said.
Steve’s major health issues began in 1999, when he was found to have a tumor attached to his colon. His pants size had expanded from 32 inches to 38 inches in a matter of months. By the time he was diagnosed and surgery was performed, his colon had ruptured and he was septic.
“Without the surgery, I would have been dead in 24-48 hours,” he said.
Steve’s back problems had already begun as well, and he had just recovered from major back surgery a few months prior to the cancer.
However – the Pantzkes didn’t let poor health stop them from enjoying life and each other. They had already purchased plane tickets for their entire family to go to California about 10 days after Steve got out of the hospital, and they went.
More back surgeries followed in 2001 and 2003. Steve travelled to Florida for three of them, seeking help at the Bonati Spine Institute.
In June 2003, cancer paid Steve another visit. After a year of trying to find out what was wrong, he was diagnosed with esthesioneuroblastoma – cancer in his sinus cavity and the left frontal part of his brain. His left eye was also involved. There were only about 200 cases of that type of cancer in the world and two of them had been treated at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, so that’s where the Pantzkes went.
During surgery, Steve’s sinuses were removed and a new tear duct was made for his left eye.
“The cancer had hundreds of little fingers,” said Steve. “They kind of overhauled my head.”
Without the surgery, Steve was told he would have been dead by August. Steve and Loni stayed in Rochester during that summer and fall, renting a place while undergoing treatment. They say that “we” had cancer because to them, it’s a “we” thing.
“Loni has been my support, beside me every moment,” Steve said. “If I could have placed an order for a wife with options, God would have sent me Loni.”
After that ordeal, cancer was gone. But in the next several years, Steve had two more back surgeries in Florida. At an appointment at Mayo in December 2012, Steve was told he didn’t have to come back for another year.
Following a car accident soon after that where he was rear-ended, Steve had yet another back surgery in January 2013. Loni quit work to be home with him. They said they both know that there are no coincidences in life, that God weaves all the circumstances of life together. That became more apparent after they ended up at Mayo again sooner than expected.
“Somewhere a scheduler make a mistake and gave Steve a three-month follow-up visit instead of a one-year appointment,” Loni said. “But that’s part of this miracle too. He would have been long-dead by the next year because cancer was found at the three-month appointment.”
Two lymph nodes in Steve’s neck were found to be cancerous, one at stage three and one at stage four. He was scheduled for surgery, where 75 lymph nodes were removed.
“I believe that was a gift from God,” Steve said.
Following radiation and chemotherapy, he was given the option of doing three doses of chemo all at once and he chose that. The first one went fine, but the second one made him extremely weak and sick. His treatment stopped there. Although he had no problems with cancer in the remainder of 2013, he was in the hospital with pneumonia, blood transfusions and nausea.
During a routine PET scan at Mayo at the end of February this year, cancer was found to have invaded his lungs.
“There were polka-dots across the lower lobes of both lungs and other dime-size spots all over,” Loni said.
They were told it was not curable.
When they returned home to Little Falls, their pastor, Nate Bjorge, asked their congregation at Faith Lutheran for prayer.
“I felt that my only option was to give it to Jesus, and that’s what I did,” Steve said. “There were so many prayers from our church. Cathy Frerichs gave me a prayer shawl I still sleep with every night. I call them my church family. Every Sunday I look forward to coming to worship. We have a wonderful pastor.”
When the Pantzkes returned to Mayo in late May for a follow-up appointment, another PET scan was done. They were impatient when the doctor came into the exam room and started making small talk.
“I told her to get to the point,” Steve said. “The next thing she said was, ‘Your cancer is gone; there is nothing there.’”
The doctor flipped back and forth between the new PET scan films and the previous films in awe.
“She told us, ‘Cancer doesn’t just go away – it’s a miracle,’” said Steve. “I was already scheduled to see the radiologist, so I went. He said it was unbelievable the cancer was gone.”
The Pantzkes left Rochester in a euphoric mood. Steve was practically yelling on the phone as the kids were called with the news.
The next Sunday at worship, they both stood before the congregation and announced the miracle of the disappearing terminal cancer.
“It hasn’t sunk in 100 percent yet,” Loni said.
“I give thanks to the Lord every night,” said Steve.
“Steve has said that when we’re born, God gives us a purpose. Steve hasn’t fulfilled his yet,” said Loni. “People need to hear that God really does work wonders – he does miracles. The power of prayer has been so good throughout our lives.”