January 25, 2015

Northwest Iowa legislator diagnosed with renal cancer

Representative Dwayne Alons.

Representative Dwayne Alons.

A long-time northwest Iowa lawmaker has been diagnosed with renal cancer in his left kidney.

Republican Dwayne Alons of Hull is a retired Iowa Air National Guard Brigadier General. He has served in the Iowa House for the past 16 years. Alons is seeking reelection this November. He released a statement, saying he will undergo treatments this fall for his cancer and plans to continue serving in the legislature. He does not have an opponent in this fall’s election.

Alons, who is nearly 68 years old, released a written statement thanking family, friends and neighbors for their prayers. Alons say’s he’s relying on Jesus — who he calls “the great Physician” — and the “unity in prayer” as a “powerful force against this attack on my body.”

State Senator Joe Seng is also undergoing cancer treatment. Seng, a Democrat from Davenport, announced in early September that he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Seng is seeking reelection and, like Alons, Seng does not face an opponent on the November ballot.

Relay runners raise money to fight Cancer

Ten men from south-central Iowa are planning a relay run across the state to raise money for the American Cancer Society’s Coaches versus Cancer program. Organizer Brian Hatch of Knoxville says this Thursday morning, one 5-man team will start in Council Bluffs and another five-man team will start running in Muscatine. Combined, they’ll cover 275 miles on Highway 92 in 24 hours.

“Each runner will run a leg — five miles, 10 miles, whatever they decide they can run — they’ll run up to that checkpoint. As soon as that runner is there, another runner will hit the road. So, they’ll just relay on top of each other the entire way back to Knoxville,” Hatch says. The relay run is scheduled to finish Friday night at the football stadium where Knoxville will be playing Chariton. Hatch, who’s planning to run a 30 mile long leg, is hoping residents in the many towns along Highway 92 will show their support.

“I know there are efforts to try and get people in every town to cheer us on, even if it’s just a high five on the way by,” Hatch says. “The more people we can make aware of this, the better.” This relay is part of a bigger Coaches versus Cancer event held each winter at a Knoxville High School.

At the event earlier this year, Hatch says the community raised around $60,000. “It is the number one Coaches versus Cancer fundraising event in the nation,” Hatch says. Officials with the American Cancer Society confirm that Knoxville hosted the biggest high school Coaches versus Cancer event in the country. Next year’s Coaches versus Cancer event will be held on January 24 during a Knoxville versus Chariton basketball game.

To make a donation, visit: relayforlife.org/marioncountyia


Atlantic woman who faked daughter’s cancer denied bond reduction

A western Iowa woman, accused of faking her daughter’s cancer, has been denied a bond review. Police say 30-year-old Leatha Slauson of Atlantic lied about her 5-year-old daughter having cancer in order to solicit thousands of dollars in donations. Slauson entered a written plea of not guilty today to charges that include child endangerment and first-degree theft.

Slauson’s attorney, Jay Mez of Council Bluffs, proposed Slauson be released from jail and allowed to reside with her mother in Hampton. Cass County District Court Chief Judge Jeffrey Larson said Slauson continues to pose a risk to the community and agreed with Cass County Attorney Dan Feistner that her cash only bond remain at $35,000.

Slauson’s trial is set for November 12. Police say in addition to lying about the cancer, Slauson inserted a feeding tube into her daughter and injected her with cancer drugs she didn’t need.

(Reporting by Mark Saylor, KJAN, Atlantic)

Iowan among those lobbying to make cancer a priority for Congress

An Iowa man was among of group of people from across the country who traveled to Washington, D.C. Tuesday to lobby Congress to make the fight against cancer a national priority. Gary Streit from Cedar Rapids is part of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network which he says wants to keep the focus on the effort.

“Everyone agrees in Congress that they should do something about cancer, but they’re often challenged to convert wishes to action,” Streit says. Streit says those pushing the issue have three main priorities, beginning with more money for research. “Right now we are on an inflation-adjusted basis 22 percent below what we were 10 years ago in terms of funding for the Natational Cancer Institute (NCI), and that is a huge driver of innovation in cancer research and treatment across the country,” Streit says.

He says they are also focusing on correcting a glitch in the Affordable Care Act that impacts the funding of treatment after a colonoscopy.

“If they go in for a colonoscopy screening, and the doctor finds a precancerous polyp and removes it, for some reason those procedures are subject to coinsurance that could cost the patient upwards of four to five hundred dollars. And that is a huge barrier to people getting the kind of colonoscopy screening that they should,” according to Streit.

The third issue involves an initiative of the American Cancer Society for what’s called “palliative care.” He says it’s the ability to provide coordinated treatment to people, to provide them with pain relief, and to provide education for professionals and the public.

Streit says they are optimistic their trip to the nation’s capital will pay dividends. “Two years ago there was a $2 billion cut to the NCI funding, and last year, shortly after this determined group of volunteers from across the country had our lobby day here in Washington, Congress restored $1 billion of that $2 billion cut to the NCI budget,” according to Streit.

Streit says cancer continues to kill 1,600 people every day in the U.S. and it is important that Congress address these issues to keep up the fight against the disease.


State senator from Davenport diagnosed with brain tumor

Joe Seng

Joe Seng

A state senator from eastern Iowa who is seeking reelection has announced he has a brain tumor.

State Senator Joe Seng of Davenport released a statement saying the tumor was discovered in tests last week and confirmed on Thursday. Seng, who is a veterinarian, says the tumor is located in his left lobe — “at the top of my head.” He plans to meet with doctors and set up a treatment plan which could include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Mike Gronstal, the Democratic leader in the state senate, spoke by phone with Seng. Gronstal said in a written statement that Seng is “tough as nails” and he’s “betting on Joe Seng to win this battle and return to the Iowa Senate for the opening gavel in January.”

Seng, who is 67 years old, is seeking a fourth term in the Iowa Senate. He does not face an opponent on November’s ballot. His senate district has an overwhelming Democratic voter registration edge.

Seng served on the Davenport City Council before he was elected to the state legislature. He owns and operates a veterinary hospital in Davenport, a bed and breakfast in Renwick, a restaurant in Davenport and a senior housing facility in his hometown of Lost Nation, Iowa.

Group uses big boar to raise funds in friend’s memory



A giant pig, raised by a group of Iowa State University graduates in honor of a fallen friend, is the winner of the Iowa State Fair’s Big Boar contest.

“Peabody” weighed in at 1,273 pounds. Peabody was also the nickname for Brad Peyton, who recently died of pancreatic cancer. He was 57.

His friend, David Schaefer, said Peyton grew up showing pigs at the State Fair and longed to win the Big Boar contest. “Two years ago, we had another boar that was presented and finished second to a boar from Indiana,” Schaefer said.

Peyton’s pig in 2012 was named “Fred Hoiboar” and was presented by Iowa State men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg.

The team that raised Peabody sold T-shirts, raising $3,000 for the Shining City Foundation, a nonprofit organization that Peyton helped found that builds medical clinics and other projects in remote, underserved areas of China, Africa, and other countries.

Big Daddy

Big Daddy

“He was an incredible guy,” Schaefer said of Peyton.”He had a lot of passion for people who don’t have a lot.”

Peabody will be on display for the remainder of the Iowa State Fair, which ends on August 17. The five-year-old boar beat out “Big Mac” who weighed in at 1,142 pounds.

This year’s winner of the State Fair’s “Super Bull” contest is “Big Daddy.” The bull, raised on Stalcup Farms in Prescott, tipped the scales at 3,012 pounds.



Woman released from life prison term to hospice dies

An Iowa woman who was recently released from prison has died. Kristina Fetters was 15 years old at the time she was convicted in the beating and stabbing death of her great aunt, 73-year-old Arlene Klehm, in Des Moines. She was just 14 at the time of the murder. Fetters was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1995, but a Polk County judge altered the sentence and the Iowa Board of Parole granted her release to a hospice facility last year.

Fetters was diagnosed with Stage 4 inoperable breast cancer last September. Fetters’ aunt, Darcy Olson of Des Moines, was the only person to speak on Fetters’ behalf at the parole board hearing back in December. “No one can alter the past. It is what it is, this happened to our family and it’s now time for my family to have closure,” Olson said. “Kristina’s impending death cannot be denied and while there have been negative comments, we believe, as the victims, our family has suffered enough and we ask the parole board to grant our request.”

Following the parole board’s decision to grant Fetters’ release, Olson told reporters there was little cause for celebration. “It’s just so bitter sweet,” Olson said. “This has been a 19 year old tragedy for my family. This will bring closure for my whole family and help us all cope just a little bit better with the situation.”

Fetters died on Sunday in a Des Moines hospice facility. She was 34. Fetters’ case was the first in Iowa to be reconsidered after a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision banned sentences of life without parole for those convicted of crimes as juveniles.