Captain Hope Triumphs

For years, Peter Hoeppner dressed up in a superhero costume and participated in marathons to raise funds for cancer research. Then ten years ago, Peter got unimaginable news, he had colon cancer.

While away at work in Texas, Peter had unexpectedly lost 30 pounds in less than three months. “I thought it was the food,” Peter recalls, “there were two options, covered in gravy or deep fried and I didn’t like either.” When he returned home to Medicine Hat, he visited his family doctor who became concerned about the rapid weight loss. Peter was referred to a specialist who ordered a colonoscopy. The test found that Peter had a tumour in his colon and he was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer. He was immediately scheduled for surgery to remove the tumour at the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital. Peter’s surgeon informed him that depending on the amount of colon that needed to be removed, he could wake up with a colostomy bag that he would need for the rest of his life.

After surgery, Peter recalls that he woke up “and immediately patted my side, checking for the colostomy bag.” Realizing nothing was there, he felt relieved. Surgery went well and the tumour was removed. However, surgery was just the start of his fight against cancer.

Discharged from the hospital, Peter returned home with a two month treatment plan of daily radiation and wearing a chemotherapy pump twenty-four hours a day. The chemotherapy drugs had hardened his veins and Peter recalls the pain he felt every time he was poked with a needle. He credits his positive attitude for helping him through saying, “don’t go into treatment thinking bad thoughts.” Peter’s optimism helped him take the treatments in stride and today his cancer is in remission.

Peter, reflecting back on his experience, notes “Stay positive. Always stay positive.” Peter’s advice is to experience life in the present and to “go do stuff, stuff I should’ve done years ago.” Peter is staying true to his advice, he is flying across the world to Australia, going for a cruise to view the Great Barrier Reef, and visit friends. As for his superhero days, when asked what superhero he would represent in future marathons his answer was clear: “Captain H. H representing hope.”

Thanks to compassionate donors, Peter was able to have surgery in his home city of Medicine Hat. The Greatest Needs fund has supported the acquisition of various surgical scopes and helps make a local impact on our healthcare system.