John Binsfeld remains active through treatment

 Staff photo by Jennie Zeitler  Grant Kiley, left, and his grandpa, John Binsfeld, have “guy days” that include pizza and time together reading and playing. Black lab Colby, since he’s a guy, is also included.
Grant Kiley, left, and his grandpa, John Binsfeld, have “guy days” that include pizza and time together reading and playing. Black lab Colby, since he’s a guy, is also included.


Cancer benefit April 21 in St. Anna

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Although John Binsfeld was born in the Navy town of Groton, Conn., his parents never lost their connection to the area of Central Minnesota where they were born. When Binsfeld was 14, his dad retired from the Navy and the family returned to the Bowlus area.

Binsfeld attended Royalton High School for two years and then graduated from Holdingford High School in 1971. He worked in his parents’ restaurants, “Someplace Else” in Bowlus and “The Right Place” in Holdingford.

Binsfeld is currently living through the challenge of cancer treatment. He had never been seriously ill until 2012, when he began to experience severe abdominal pain.

“I was thinking maybe I had a hernia,” he said.

He went to the doctor and had a colonoscopy, which revealed stage 4 cancer where the small and large intestines join together. It had broken through the intestinal lining and was in both lobes of the liver.

Binsfeld was not allowed to wake up from the test and was wheeled straight to surgery, where as much of the cancer as possible was removed.

Binsfeld was given a cancer drug which wreaked havoc with his internal organs, and is now taking chemo pills.

“The intravenous (IV) drugs made me hurt so bad,” he said. “Although the side effects are fewer with the pills, they are more pronounced.”

Binsfeld’s fingertips and toes burn all the time. But he is in remission.

One of the indicators of his cancer is the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) count.

“Every person has a count of 0 – 5,” said Binsfeld. “The test is 95 percent accurate. My count started at 310 and has consistently shrunk to 1.5.”

“The cancer is no longer growing; it’s diminishing,” he said. “I feel like God has something more for me to do.”

Binsfeld’s faith in God’s working in his life started way back when he went into the Merchant Marine after high school.
“Two friends persuaded me to go with them to join and I took $50,” he said. “I took a leap and put my faith in God.”

While waiting in Duluth to find out if he would be accepted, Binsfeld was down to 75 cents. He was asked if he wanted to shovel snow, and received $1. Just a short time later, someone he met told him about a place nearby where he could get a huge, good meal for $1.50.

He knew God was helping him, but he asked for a sign to know what to do next.

“Five minutes later I had already forgotten about the prayer, but was notified that they had a ship for me,” Binsfeld said. “I remembered the prayer then. I have such a love of God and it started way back there.”

Binsfeld returned to Bowlus the next year and married Deborah Czech. They have a son, Gregory, who is married to Anna and lives in Berlin, Germany. Their daughter Michelle Kiley, lives in Holdingford with her son, Grant.

Binsfeld recently earned his doctor of philosophy degree in psychology from Capella University, a six-year journey, and is looking forward to attending the formal commencement ceremony in August.

He teaches online courses in psychology for Upper Iowa University, not slowing down because of his treatment.

“I get to help these people learn,” he said. “One of the topics we’ve touched on in one of my classes is ‘experiencing normal feelings in an abnormal situation.’”

Binsfeld believes that only God will know when his time is done.

“The doctors keep my body alive,” he said, “but God gives me life and keeps me moving in the right direction. I’m living for the day I will be cured. I’m giving it all I’ve got and leaving the rest up to God.”

A chicken dinner benefit which includes a silent auction will be held Sunday, April 21 at the Pelican Lake Ballroom in St. Anna.

The benefit will be hosted by his family and friends to help cover ongoing medical expenses.