Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Durst named Caregiver of the Year




Ron Durst, the 2018

Caregiver of the Year for the

Dodge County Relay for Life,

has fought cancer for many

years, both as a survivor and

as a caregiver.

He has survived cancer in

two separate organs. First he

had renal cancer and then

that metastasized into his


And, his beloved wife,

Marsha, succumbed to

multiple myeloma in

February 2017.

During his illness, “We

remained very positive, even

though the outlook was pretty

grim,” he said. “I was told to

get my affairs in order.”

Between 2005 and 2013, Ron,

with Marsha’s help, fought off

first renal cancer of the left

kidney, which included having

that one removed and then,

after the cancer metastasized

to his lungs, having three

surgeries to have tumors in

his lungs removed, and two

years of chemotherapy.

The initial lung surgery

was in May 2008, and in

December of that year, it had

already shown up again. At

that point, Ron began an oral

chemotherapy regimen for

two years. Then he still had a

few spots left on his lungs and

most were removed. With this

type of cancer, his condition is

monitored very closely and in

January 2015, there were still

some small spots. Those were

also removed.

His journey began in Sioux

Falls, S.D. when Ron was at a

dairy meeting where he got so

sick, he went to an emergency

room where they found

a very enlarged kidney.

He drove himself home

and went to the Mayo

Clinic where that

kidney was diagnosed

as cancerous and

removed and his care


Then, three years

later, chest pains drove

him to the doctor and

several spots on his

lungs were found and

the battle against that


Time passed, things

seemed to be sort of

under control and the

Durst family settled

back into enjoying life

until 2013 when Marsha

began suffering a lot

of back pain. She took

several treatments to

address her back pain,

but none were effective.

She stood the pain

until late December

that year when one

Sunday, it got so bad,

the Dursts went to the

emergency room at St.

Mary’s Hospital.

Tests there showed

her calcium levels were much

too high and her kidneys

were trying to flush that out.

The diagnosis was multiple

myeloma. That cancer is “like

termites eating your bones,”

said Ron and it is extremely


Marsha underwent a bone

marrow transplant in June

of 2014. The transplant was

successful but by April 2015,

the myeloma markers started

creeping up again. She started

intravenous chemotherapy

treatments and even radiation

on some tumors. For the last

six months of her life, the

couple spent every day except

three at the Clinic.

“We believed we could

beat it. We tried everything

that Mayo had. We believed

we could get her where her

counts were stable. There

were certain experimental

treatments, but she was not

eligible for them because her

platelet counts were too low,”

he explained.

Marsha’s condition

continued to deteriorate and

on April 9, 2016, she broke

her hip because she stumbled

and sat down too abruptly

on a stairway. Some of the

chemotherapy medication

caused neuropathy, which

impeded her balance, Ron


She had the necessary

transfusions to get her

platelets back up to a safe level

to allow surgery to be done to

repair the hip.

Whenever she came home

from the Clinic, if she needed

to do something, she would

go to work at the dairy where

she had done bookkeeping for

years. Even while she was in

hospice, she wanted to get up

and do something at the dairy

office. Her children were able

to assist her to do some minor

bookkeeping chores from her

bed by setting up a computer


But, finally, in February of

2017, three days shy of her 66th

birthday, Marsha died at home

under the care of Mayo

Hospice and with her

children, Liz and Jon,

and her beloved Ron by

her side.

Ron speaks of

Marsha with so much


“She wanted us to

go on. Don’t live your

life looking in the

rear-view mirror, she

used to tell us. And

Marsha’s five guiding

principles she lived

her life by were: Help

others, be ethical,

do everything with

excellence, be happy,

and take care of your


The couple was

married 40 years.

He mused about

her, saying, “She

graduated summa

cum laude from

Concordia University

in St. Paul with a

teaching certificate in

elementary education.

She also took online

accounting classes

to do her job at the

dairy. We always

worked together. We blended

our talents, which made us

successful. We had a common

vision and we were in full

agreement about everything

from raising the kids to

business decisions. She was

always very supportive of me.”

Ron continues to live in the

beautiful home the two built

10 years ago.

He and his family have

formed a new team for the

Dodge County Relay for Life

this year called The Marsha

Moos. Ron’s mother, Hylah

Durst, participated in Relay

for many years through her

TOPS Club in Kasson.

Both of the children and

their spouses will be at

Relay on Aug. 3. Liz and her

husband, Andrew, live in

San Jose, Calif., and Jon and

his wife, Meaghan, live in

Greenville, S.C. Last year’s

Relay was very emotional for

the family as they participated

without their beloved wife and


See full story in this week’s print edition or subscribe online. Please subscribe here or current subscribers can login here.

Steele County Times & DCI

Steele County Times
411 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 247
Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

Dodge County Independent
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

Dodge County Printing
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944


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