Before having surgery to remove his glioblastoma, Greg Schmidt feared that he would lose his ability to do math.
He always enjoyed math. As a child, he could easily calculate the batting averages of baseball players. As an adult, he needed the skill as a plant manager in manufacturing to set budgets and manage operating expenses. When he awoke from surgery, he ran arithmetic problems through his head.
“That was the first thing that popped in my head. Can I still do math?” Greg said. “I was relieved that I was still capable of it.”
Greg, 57, of Catherine, Kansas, has worked for the same manufacturing firm for 38 years. The company manufactures hydraulic components used for farming, industrial and construction equipment. Greg grew up on a wheat and cattle farm and understood how hydraulics worked from plowing in the field. He started working on the shop floor at the manufacturing firm when he was 18 years old and worked his way up throughout the years.
“I started June 22, 1979,” he said. “There are just a few dates that stand out, and that’s one of them. I’m a hard worker. I’ve always enjoyed it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here 38 years.”
Before my diagnosis, age didn’t mean much to me. This is an eye opener of what you haven’t finished in your life that you still want to do. I want to see my grandkids grow up.
Focusing on work has helped Greg through his glioblastoma diagnosis, treatment and recovery. His company gave him a laptop so he could monitor email and production as he recovered from surgery. He worked part time through some of his treatment and returned to work full time a couple of months after his diagnosis. His employer provided flexibility as he coped with a life-changing diagnosis.
He found the idle time of treatment and recovery challenging. He said nights were the worst because his mind would wander, thinking about the what-ifs surrounding his diagnosis.
“All I could do was look at the ceiling,” Greg said. “I couldn’t wait for the sun to come up. I wanted the daytime.”
During the day, he looked forward to interacting with his medical team at appointments and seeing people from his tight-knit community while he was out.
“My medical team always knew what to say to pep me up,” Greg said.
When he isn’t working, Greg enjoys attending local sporting events with his wife, Pam, and spending time with his six grandchildren. He also runs the clocks at high school football and basketball games. As much as he loves working, Greg said, his diagnosis has led him to think about retirement.
After he retires, he hopes to explore Kansas and other parts of the Midwest, and maybe get accustomed to “doing nothing.” Mostly, he wants to spend more time with his family. Over the years, he put his job first and wants to make up for lost time.
“Before my diagnosis, age didn’t mean much to me,” Greg said. “I didn’t feel old. This is an eye opener of what you haven’t finished in your life that you still want to do. I want to see my grandkids grow up.”
The health status of patients featured reflects their condition at the time the photographs were taken and may have changed over time.