'Tough Enough to Wear Pink' helps recovering cancer patients

Minot, ND - The 63rd annual Minot Y's Men's Rodeo begins on Thursday.

The Y's Men association takes part in the 'Tough Enough to Wear Pink' campaign that raises funds to provide cancer patients access to Trinity Health's cancer rehab program - raising more than 97,000 dollars this year.

A Minot man is not only recovering from cancer, but has had his whole life turned around thanks to the rehab program.

One year ago, what Jeff Balentine and his doctor thought to be tonsillitis turned out to be throat cancer.

"I was retired and life was very good and then you're diagnosed with cancer and it's just a big blow to yourself," Balentine said.

The diagnosis came just two days before his big trip to New Zealand and Australia.

Against doctor's orders, he went anyway.

He said, "After you're diagnosed with cancer you kind of readjust your life and say, 'this may be the last time that I will take my wife anywhere."

Once he got back, he had three months of chemo to endure.

Then came radiation and more chemo.

"It was very brutal on me," Balentine recalled.

"The radiation treatments in Mayo were brutal as well because they burned my throat."

Now cancer free, "you have to have motivation," he said.

"The ultimate goal is to give people their life back. Both physically and emotionally," Trinity's exercise physiologist Russel Gust said.

Balentine said it's thanks to Trinity Health's Cancer Rehab program that's got him back to his old ways, "you got to remind yourself that things do happen. There's bumps in the road but you got to take the bump and get back on your feet and take off again and this is just step one in getting me back to where I was before. I lost 50 pounds during treatment. You have to make a decision. You have to get up and get going. This program has been just a god send to me. I knew that it was out there waiting for me and I just had to take advantage of it."

"One statement that he said is, "I'm alive." But he's more than that, you know, Jeff is living. He's not just alive, he's living," Gust said.

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