The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Features

April 22, 2014

Leader, wife run on in fight against cancer

FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Fort Bragg Soldier Col. Lenny Kness, chief of staff, 1st Sustainment Command (Theater), is an avid runner.

So, it was no surprise in October 2011 that he would stay the course, as planned many months before, and run the Army Ten Miler. Just days earlier, he had arrived at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., after receiving the devastating news that no one wants to hear – he had brain cancer.

With his doctor’s permission and the unexpected company of his wife, Heather, Lenny stayed on track and they ran side-by-side through the streets of the nation’s capital. For the first time that they could remember, the couple slowed down to enjoy the scenery, wave to people and slap hands along the way.

“It was a nice way to feel normal,” said Heather, an Army lieutenant colonel and native of Troy, N.Y.

After watching her husband of more than 20 years suffer a seizure in Afghanistan where she was deployed as the 44th Medical Brigade’s executive officer, she accompanied him home to the United States, by way of Germany, for further testing and treatment.

The couple said one of the hardest moments for them was when the doctor in Germany broke the news and hearing his best survival prognosis — 18 to 36 months.

A biopsy and extensive testing confirmed that Lenny had Stage 2 cancer in the left lobe of his brain called astrocytoma. As one doctor explained to him, ‘It’s sprinkled throughout the brain like pepper in mashed potatoes.’

According to the American Brain Tumor Association, “Astrocytomas are tumors that arise from astrocytes — star-shaped cells that make up the ‘glue-like’ or supportive tissue of the brain.”

Lenny was referred to the National Institute of Health, and in April 2012, with the help of Cape Fear Valley Cancer Center’s Medical Oncology Department, he began radiation and chemotherapy.

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