CHOTEAU — Chris Hindoien, who serves as the mayor of the town of Choteau, has been battling cancer since December - but he is not alone in his fight. Along with family and friends, he has a small army of supporters who cheer him on, as he shares updates on social media.
Oropharyngeal is a viral form of cancer caused by the HPV virus. With his diagnosis, doctors at Benefis Sletten Cancer Institute found two masses in Hindoien's throat. He then underwent seven weeks of chemotherapy and radiation. With his form of cancer the treatment cannot kill cancer cell only help the body to shrink them.
His first post of his cancer was made on December 11:
"So being a man and watching old western and war movies about tough, macho men may not always be the best way to learn how to deal with issues. I mean, hey, where is it that is so important that I need to get back to and let my health go...John Wayne isn’t waiting for me to help out in the South Pacific, Louis L’Amour hasn’t penned me into a Sackett book to save some damsel so I ask you all to heed what I am saying and not what I did.
After several months of feeling something, and of course after hunting season, I went to the Dr. to see what’s up. Tuesday’s appointment turned into Tuesday’s CT Scan. While I was expecting results Tuesday, we didn’t get them until Wednesday afternoon. Partly so the Dr. could digest what was on the report. They have found multiple masses in my neck and carotid area on the left side. They look to be of suspicious nature, surprisingly since I don’t know of any non-suspicious lump existing.
Today brought me to GF to see an ENT Doctor. He came in on his day off to see me. They did a nasal-pharyngeal scope procedure and then wanted to know if we had time to stay a little longer.
He came back with a Pathologist and they did 3 needle biopsies on the masses. The Pathologist said they were good samples and he was gone. A quick bandage job and we were out the door as well. We will see the Doctor next Tuesday and get the results of the biopsy work. You now all know as much as w I do. Tammy probably knows more as she was there and watched all of the procedures take place.
Needless to say, I should have put my health and well-being ahead of anything else, even my elk hunt....
Friends if you notice something out of the ordinary, make it a priority. Don’t be a me.... take care of yourself. Update you all on Tuesday afternoon.“
Little did he know then the battle he had to face. Hindoien completed his treatment on February 19th. Since then he has been recovering for radiation burns to his throat that left him unable to speak until mid-March.
“I didn’t realize how dark it would get. He was just so down and usually we’re very up people. This was something else, something I never want to experience again,” said his wife Tammy.
The mayor said he decided to document his journey to educate people and let others going through the same struggle know they aren’t alone: “I figured if I’m going to do this I want people to come along and know what it’s about. If someone else comes down with it, I want them to know that I did it. Yea it was scary but they can go back and look at what I dealt with, what I went through and kind of look at the progressions of where they’re at in their treatment process."
Through it all, his wife was there to be his rock and provide the help he needed to be called a survivor. “I couldn’t have made it without praying and thank God that prayers are answered,” said Tammy.
Tammy believes it’s the community online and in town that have reached out and helped them both get through: “Without this kind of community we’d have been alone in a bubble so to speak. With the community folks and him being so public on social media everybody knew what was going on and so those people really helped him come through that. I want to put it behind us and live everyday to fullest because you never know what could happen tomorrow."
Mayor Hindoien had his latest scan on March 22nd that shows the mass in his neck is shrinking naturally.
He will come back to Great Falls for a PET scan on April 2nd to see what progress has been made. Though he may be done with treatment, he estimated he won’t make a full recovery until Labor Day.