Rob Stauffer: leaning into Wellspring

Rob Stauffer is a Wellspring superstar! He has earned this title by taking over 50 Wellspring programs in the past 12 months. This is a very ambitious feat for someone who admittedly suffers with fatigue, brain fog, insomnia, and other long-term side effects of cancer and treatment.

“I was trying to find direction and solutions for my side effects when I found Wellspring,” said Rob. “I signed up and just started taking everything that interested me, and programs I thought might assist with my health and healing. There is just so much offered at Wellspring that has helped me.”

Rob lives in Whitecourt, so his Wellspring community is all online. He is grateful to have access to programs offered in Alberta and across the country, including the Ontario-based Wellspring centres.

Rob’s list of key programs includes Brain Fog and Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery, as well as Bird Strolls and Tai Chi. He also joined exercise programs, and he has completed five levels of the Healing Journey program.

“There are so many good people at Wellspring! They have provided so much clarity and direction. When my full-time job became my health, I got hooked on Wellspring … it was exactly what I needed.”

Rob’s cancer story begins with a tiny spot on his ear back in the spring of 2015.

“My wife, who was a registered nurse, examined my moles when one was itchy she suggested I have it checked out,” he said.

A biopsy confirmed that it was melanoma.

“I learned it was cancer while we were en route to Paris for the French Open. My wife and I promised to take both our daughters on trips when they graduated and this was one of those trips,” he said.

Treatment was a surgical resection of that ear. The surgery went well and Rob felt immensely blessed when further test showed clear lymph nodes.

“The process went very smoothly and I was very impressed with the doctors who treated me. I felt very lucky,” he said.

Rob returned to his job as a manager at Miller Western Forest Products. “I was a Type A so I was just glad to be back at work. My employer was great – everything was terrific,” he said.

Until it wasn’t.

In 2018 Rob began experiencing blurred vision, balance issues, and difficulty with speech. “I had always prided myself in my use of language, the words I chose, so now when I couldn’t find words, this was very concerning to me,” he said.

He saw various doctors, including optometrists, but it wasn’t until he insisted on having a CT scan that the problem came to light; he had a brain tumour the size of an egg. 

Treatments that followed included surgery, immunotherapy, and Gamma Knife radiosurgery – which is a sophisticated computer-guided treatment that delivers highly focused radiation to tumours and lesions in the brain.

He reacted badly to the immunotherapy and had to be withdrawn from the treatments twice, but over time, the immunotherapy treatment has significantly reduced Rob’s tumours – including a second one that was detected in his lungs. “The treatments saved my life,” he said.

Rob tried to go back to work twice, but eventually the cumulative side effects of treatment forced him to take a break and find a new path in life. His new path includes taking Wellspring programs and enjoying more time with his family – an approach that was driven home in a Wellspring lecture series by Alan Hobson.

“I feel positive and hopeful. I don’t see myself as Rob’s caregiver – more his partner in life,” said Colleen Stauffer.

“I call my doctors my rock stars, but my wife – she’s my super rock star. She has been there throughout the whole process. She has been absolutely critical, every step of the way. I have never spent as much time with my family as I have recently and I do feel very fortunate about that,” said Rob.

Before the pandemic hit and after the treatment, Rob and his wife managed to escape to Ireland – the trip promised to their second daughter. He also went on a cruise with his siblings and his dad.

“I feel fortunate to be here, that’s for sure,” he said. “A lot of people say I won the lottery; that I was in the right place at the right time – all the time, in my cancer journey. There is a lot of truth to that,” said Rob.

 
A Message from Rob

 “I hope I can influence others to take this seriously. Skin cancer incidence rates continue to increase – but steps can be taken to prevent the risk. Take care of your skin – there are three ways to stop the rays.  Seek shade, wear sun protective clothing, and use SPF 50+ sunscreen.”

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