A Cowboy’s Fight Against Cancer

For months, LeRoy Turner called Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center home while he received treatment for leukemia.

“He was the patient in the black cowboy hat,” said LeRoy’s wife, Rose, with a smile. She recalls their journey vividly.

Rose remembers when it all started…LeRoy came home from work one day covered in unexplainable bruises. By the next day, blisters appeared on the inside of his cheeks.

The couple headed to their local emergency department, where doctors quickly recognized the cause.

“Within an hour and a half, they told us, ‘You have leukemia, and you’re going to Roger Maris from here by ambulance,” Rose recalled.  “I thought, there’s got to be some mistake. I just couldn’t believe it.”

LeRoy was rushed to Roger Maris in October 2020 to begin an intense course of daily chemotherapy treatments. He was at Roger Maris for a little over six weeks.

“I tell you what, the people at Roger Maris were amazing. Just amazing,” Rose said. “There was never a day we thought we should be somewhere else. LeRoy’s oncologist, Dr. Gross, is a saint. The nurses embraced us all and felt our pain and fear. LeRoy became very popular with he nurses. We fed them pizza one evening and once LeRoy was discharged from the hospital, we brought them a home-cooked meal of tacos with all the fixings. Including, fresh, homemade tortillas.

“You don’t really know what you’re going to need until you’re there and you’re at your wits’ end and don’t know what to do. But so many services and specialists were there to help us get through. LeRoy had an amazing team of doctors.”

By mid-December, LeRoy’s cancer was in remission. He was discharged just in time to spend the holiday with his family…a “Christmas miracle” he called it.

“His greatest miracle was his new friend Cammie—a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd dog, that is now the most important part of the Turner family,” Rose added. “She went with LeRoy to each and every chemo treatment, waited in the pickup, but sometimes was able to come see the nurses.”

LeRoy continued chemotherapy infusions five days a week for five months—always in the mornings so that he could still get to work at his sand and gravel business, with Cammie in tow.

During that time, LeRoy also found a way to help others. 

‘Time to go bigger’


For years before his cancer diagnosis, LeRoy had been actively involved with the Cowboy Up Ride Against Cancer, a fundraising movement that supports cancer care at Roger Maris.

Every year for the past nine, he’d hosted an annual poker tournament for the cause—and wasn’t about to let his own cancer battle get in the way of the 10th.

“Now it’s time to go bigger!” he wrote in a letter to friends, family and Cowboy Up supporters, inviting them to the January event. “We ask you to help us shine our light a little brighter by helping those fighting the battle against cancer.”

The response was overwhelming. In total, the event helped raise $15,000 for Roger Maris. Looking ahead, LeRoy has already increased his goal for next year!

Thank you, Cowboy Up!


Thanks to LeRoy and the generosity and commitment of so many, Cowboy Up has raised a total of $57,000 for Roger Maris in 2021!  That total includes funds raised from LeRoy’s poker tournament, the annual trail ride weekend, and many other events and fundraisers throughout the year.

100% to saving lives, close to home


Every dollar raised for Roger Maris stays local to help save more lives, close to home. This generosity touches every patient by supporting priorities like:

  • Nurse navigation
  • My Survivor Mentor program
  • Art, music and massage therapy
  • Financial assistance for patients to help cover the costs of 3D mammography screening, as well as treatment-related transportation, meals and lodging
  • Training opportunities for staff
  • The region’s first bone marrow transplant program at Roger Maris, which will open this fall

Everything makes a difference. And it all adds up to attract and keep phenomenal caregivers and specialists here in Fargo today, and for years to come.

“We are so blessed to have Roger Maris here,” Rose said. “From the minute you walk in that door, you feel like you’re family.”

Interested in giving back to Roger Maris?


Learn more about the Reimagine campaign at sanfordhealthfoundation.org/reimagine.

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