ProAg started as a family owned company and we do as much as we can to carry some of that philosophy forward. For this blog post, we have invited one of our ProAg family members to tell us his story.
Joe Claerhout started working full time for ProAg in 2010 as an area claims supervisor. He is a strong fighter and has always wanted to help get the job done right. Despite his story of struggles, Joe continues to fight his battle with cancer and he continues to help ProAg.
We have missed having Joe around on a regular basis but he’s stayed in touch. His grace and thoughtfulness shines through as he shares some thoughts to try and help anyone who might be facing cancer or other struggles.
As Joe continues his battle, he commented to me this week that he misses work and said he does want to return to help us as soon as he can. I assured him that we’d take him back at any time.
ProAg is looking forward to working with Joe again but until that day, we’re working hard to keep things ready for him and continue to keep him in our thoughts and prayers.
His family is our family, we hope you’ll feel the same.
By Joe Claerhout
Editor’s Note: This is a condensed version of Joe’s story. To read the full text click here.
Suzy and I were married in 1974. Through the years we transitioned from the greenhouse and farm to a bike shop, full-time crop insurance work, and a race track. We were great partners, working together. The race track and crop insurance years were wonderful. We made so many friends that have really become my family.
In 1997 I had surgery to remove a mole from my face which was diagnosed as melanoma. In 2010 my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Suzy’s tumor was tiny, and they thought surgery was all she needed. In 2013 my cancer returned, this time on my pancreas. I had surgery and radiation. The following year I thought I was having a stroke – the symptoms were due to the long-term effects of radiation caused by necrosis. It took about six months to gain enough strength to take care of myself. During that summer Suzy’s cancer returned with a vengeance. My condition was getting better and hers was getting worse.
She ended up in hospice. At the end she told me she was ready to go and would not change a thing. She told me she loved me and that I should try to kill a buck. She also said to think of all the people that die when they are young – I got to live a great life.
I try to remember the good times Suzy and I had like the time she opened her Christmas presents from me and was laughing. I said, “What’s so funny?” She said, “This is the same necklace you gave me last year. We laughed about that for years.”
I worked until 2016 without too many side effects. As many of you know, currently I am very sick mentally and physically. I had radiation treatments in 2014, full brain and gamma knife which would come back in 2016 as necrosis and it affected my right side like a stroke. I learned this spring from a doctor that they hardly do full brain radiation any more due to what happened to me – too much radiation I guess. If someone wants to give you full brain radiation ask a lot of questions or get another opinion I lost a ton of mobility due to radiation neuropathy.
My disease is progressing really quickly. I have a hard time walking and last week I could not talk for a day. Suzie would have said that would have been good a few years ago. (LOL) I have come to terms with my disease and look at it as a win/win situation. If I live, I get to spend more time with my family. If I die I get see God, Suzie and the rest of my family. Either way I win.
God has been very good to us all through our lives. I have learned to trust Him with whatever He decides but with a few complaints at first. And that is probably normal. Thank you for all your prayers and thoughts.
Editor’s Note: This is a condensed version of Joe’s story. To read the full three-part story click here.