When St. Louis area attorney Erik Lintvedt was named the winner of last fall’s Week 12 GoodBookey College Football Challenge, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, he decided to give his prize to the most inspiring cancer survivor in his life—his father, Vern.
Vern Lintvedt happily agreed to take the prize package, an all-inclusive trip to Las Vegas, and use the journey for an unforgettable bonding experience with his other son, Travis.
The Lintvedts enjoyed an all-inclusive trip to the entertainment capital of the world, complete with airfare, VIP pre-party, two VIP tickets to the ACS Coaches vs Cancer basketball tournament, and two nights at the strip’s newest hotel, the Park MGM. In addition, the pair enjoyed appetizers and gameplay at Topgolf.
Vern, a Lutheran pastor in the St. Louis suburb of O’Fallon, Illinois, shared that while he doesn’t gamble, he enjoyed the trip for many reasons. “Any time I get to spend with my children is great,” the father of four explained. “Travis and I had a blast exploring the area, seeing Red Rock Canyon and catching a concert by Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel at a nearby casino. But hailing from San Diego originally, as soon as we saw that Vegas had an In-and-Out Burger, we had to make that our first stop!”
In addition, Vern and Travis particularly enjoyed the time they were able to spend with other cancer survivors in town for the society’s annual Coaches Versus Cancer event, featuring the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels and the BYU Cougars: “It was a great trip, and the Park MGM was phenomenal. We really enjoyed going to Topgolf, as well as the basketball game, getting to know other cancer survivors and their families. At one point, we found ourselves on the court at the basketball game surrounded by 150 cancer survivors, almost all of whom were doing really well, leading productive lives as I am able to myself.”
It wasn’t so long ago that Pastor Lintvedt wasn’t doing so well. “In 2013, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” he explained. While his oncologist said it was the best possible news after Lintvedt’s biopsy, the jovial pastor was in for a harrowing journey. Now 65, Lintvedt has gone through multiple rounds of chemotherapy, several hospital stays, and an autologous stem cell transplant. He’s thankful to be in remission, counted as a survivor.
Asked about his secrets for a successful recovery, Lintvedt credited his faith, his family, his team of doctors, and living life on the lighter side. “My faith remained strong,” he said. “I knew that even if I wasn’t going to be okay, that I’d ultimately be okay anyway, even in death. My wife, Marty, and my children—Erik, Heidi, Travis, and Kristen—were always there, at my side. My oncologists—Amanda Cashen and Alfred Greco, were amazing—and just approaching this health scare with my healthy sense of humor really helped keep my spirits up and made me aware of the pain others were going through at the clinics and hospitals I frequented during my treatment.”
Some of his favorite hospital pastimes included setting up toy army men to knock down with rubber bands from his bed, as well as flying remote control helicopters around his room, much to the chagrin of nurses charged with administering $10,000-per-bag chemotherapies via IV infusion.
Lintvedt has grown to appreciate the work of the American Cancer Society and other charities aimed at supporting cancer patients. “The way Dr. Greco described it, you’re in a race with chemo,” he said. “The chemo is killing the cancer, but it’s killing you, too. Dr. Cashen noted how much better the chemo is today than a generation ago when more people would lose their battles. Thanks to organizations like the American Cancer Society, there have been so many advances due to great research by dedicated doctors and scientists.”
We are thrilled to see our mission playing out in action for people like Vern. Nothing brings us more joy than hearing about the small impact we have made in someone’s life.
For more information on the American Cancer Society and its initiatives to support cancer research and other programs benefiting patients and their families, visit www.cancer.org.