Marilyn and Tim Beyer donated a portion of their harvest to support Roger Maris Cancer Center.

Sharing a bountiful harvest

March 20, 2019

Walking into the Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center for the first time, Tim and Marilyn Beyer didn’t know what to expect. The couple, from Holloway, Minn., only knew that medical scans couldn’t identify why part of Tim’s neck swelled to the size of a small grapefruit the week before.

“I was wondering what was going to happen next,” Tim said. “I was scared.”

But from the moment they approached the front desk, the team at Roger Maris Cancer Center welcomed the Beyers with open arms and took care of them like family.

“They were all exceptional,” Marilyn said. “Every day, everyone was just amazing.”

The lifelong farmers were so impressed by the team, they donated what they could — a portion of their harvest — through the Sanford Health Foundation’s Gift of Grain program.

“We were inspired to make this gift in gratitude for the amazing care that Tim received during his journey,” Marilyn said. “We’d like more donors to be aware of this option.”

A shocking diagnosis

On Thanksgiving Day in 2017, Tim and Marilyn traveled a few hours to visit family. Returning home that evening, Tim didn’t feel any different. But the lights of their home revealed what couldn’t be seen in the darkness of the car: a large bulge in his neck.

“We wondered if we should go to the emergency room or not because I figured it was just swollen glands,” Tim recalled. “But we thought we better go in.”

Days later, he was referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist at the Sanford Broadway Clinic. The specialist identified tonsil cancer and contacted the Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center right away.

“Everything happened really fast,” Tim said.

His Sanford oncologist proposed a new kind of treatment plan; one that required less radiation and caused fewer side effects. After a tonsillectomy, nine rounds of chemotherapy and 27 radiation sessions, Tim rang the silver bell victoriously in the Roger Maris lobby to signify the end of his treatments. A few of his nurses stood by him and everyone in the lobby applauded.

“It was emotional,” Tim said. “I made it through.”

Moving care forward

Even before he rang the bell, Tim knew he would make a donation to Roger Maris.

He wanted to honor the oncology team that saved his life. He wanted to show appreciation for the individuals he met, like the receptionist who remembered his name and birth date at every check-in. He wanted to lift up what Sanford offers, like the state-of-the-art equipment and technology at the Sanford Medical Center Fargo, where he had his surgery.

The Beyers hope their gift will improve the journey for future cancer patients.

“It’s important to us that cancer research and clinical trials continue so many more people will be treated successfully,” Marilyn said.

Gift of Grain

The Gift of Grain program is a unique, simple way to support an area you’re passionate about while achieving tax savings. Your gift of grain can be designated to the purpose of your choosing and retains its full value. Donors may also realize more significant tax savings than selling the grain and making a gift from the proceeds.

If you are a farmer and interested in donating through the Gift of Grain program, please call the Sanford Health Foundation at (701) 234-6246.