By Nathan Sites
Mr. Reece Mann, the superintendent of Delaware Community Schools, was at a doctor’s appointment for a checkup. He was expecting to go home healthy. That was not the case.
Instead, Mr. Mann was informed that he had a dangerous cancer, cholangiocarcinoma. This is a rare cancer of the bile ducts in the liver. Because of the location, this cancer is often inoperable.
Mr. Mann is a religious man who relies on his faith in God. When he was little his parents would take him and his brother to church, which has affected him greatly.
From the time he was diagnosed in early November, he said he has had a positive outlook on what was going to happen because he knows he has God by his side. His relationship with God has intensified and has given him a positive outlook on his cancer diagnosis.
Mr. Mann has been given many gifts, including several journals, daily readings, Devotions, Bibles and autobiographies about other people dealing with cancer. Outside of work, most of his day goes into reading and praying.
Mr. Mann likes to meditate on the words from a book that he read that stated, “I trust my body, I trust my doctors, and I trust God.”
He stressed that his faith is “purely what works for Reece Mann,” and is not intended to influence or sway others who may have different beliefs.
He usually has one saying on his mind, and that is “somebody has it worse than me.”
Mr. Mann says he is thankful for the things he has, the people around him, and the school corporation personnel, many of whom have brought him gifts and blessings. He recently received more than 100 birthday cards from staff members and students throughout the corporation.
At this point, he has gone through five chemotherapy treatments. He is going to have several more after that because the type of cancer he has needs to be dealt with aggressively.
Each treatment is hard on a certain part of his body. During treatments he is given Cisplatin and Gemzar, though, and when he takes these they cut down his white blood cells and his red blood platelets, so he has to take another drug called Zarxio. He has to take these so that they can do treatments that have to do with his blood marrow.
Originally, his doctors were hopeful to have six treatments by now but because of the reduction in white blood cells and platelets, he’s only had five.
His doctor has discouraged him from getting outside of his home for fear of contracting Covid, which is another factor to prevent him from receiving treatments.
When Mr. Mann was told that he had a rare cancer, he wanted to learn more about it. So he started googling the prognosis of cholangiocarcinoma, and he found the things that he saw rather depressing.
“However, during one of my appointments prior to surgically installing a stent inside my bile duct, my doctor looked at me and asked if I had an ‘expiration date’ on the bottom of my foot,” Mann said. “At that point and thereafter, I realized my situation doesn’t have to fall under the same results as the great many of Google searches that I conducted. From this moment on, my emotional and mental state was only concerned with the doctor’s scouting report in HOW he planned to attack this tumor.”
The plan is for chemotherapy, followed by radiation, surgery, and immunotherapy.
His family and friends keep him going each day. Even though going through cancer (with Covid) is difficult because they can’t see each other beyond 6 feet and with a mask, his wife is an expert in nutrition, Lysol, and pushing fluids throughout each day.
And from a school community’s perspective, he is overwhelmed sometimes by the outpouring of love from Delcom employees, Delcom parents, athletic programs, and several childhood friends on social media.
“You wouldn’t believe the number of cards, emails, gift certificates, and personal notes sent to me from everyone,” he said. “… I have been humbled and honored by such incredible acts of kindness.”
This is definitely a year to adapt and overcome, and he said he is thankful for everyone making the 2020-2021 school year a good one.