Just two days after leaving for the Dana Farber Clinic in Boston, longtime town leader Peter Klotz returned home Thursday on medication for an anomaly in his white blood cell count that represents just a mild form of leukemia.
They're experts out there; they looked at my test results and said there was no indication of a more serious illness that might require aggressive treatment, said Klotz. "In fact, they weren't quite sure why so many red flags went up when my tests were reviewed here."
Klotz, who is pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church in Malta and the town's planning board chairman, learned of his illness the same day, Tuesday Sept. 18, that he won the Republican primary race and became an endorsed party candidate for a town council seat.
Blood tests taken for unrelated, minor maladies showed a jump in his white blood cell count, and an intensive bone marrow test also showed something amiss. Klotz announced to his congregation on Sunday, Sept. 23, that he would be traveling to Boston for treatment that might have included, in the worst case scenario, a bone marrow transplant and up to eight weeks in recovery.
Doctors put Klotz on Gleevec, a new drug showing promising long-term results in normalizing blood cell counts. He will continue to have his blood levels monitored twice yearly, then once a year.
"They anticipate that after being on the medication, my counts will go down in a short period of time," said Klotz, with jubilation in his voice. "They said there was no reason to change my campaign schedule or any town activities."
In the few days leading up to his departure, Klotz continued with town business including attending a lengthy board meeting Monday, Oct. 1.
Fighting a cold, Klotz had been advised to avoid contact with large crowds, but he nonetheless attended the meeting which was standing room only.
"I couldn't shake hands, and hand sanitizer has become my best friend, but my immune system will be back in shape soon," said Klotz. "And I'm over that cold."
Klotz offered his appreciation to the many citizens, members of his congregation, and town officials and volunteers that reached out with their good wishes during the tumultuous days.
"The outpouring of support and prayers was wonderful, and I want to thank everyone who sent cards and well wishes," said Klotz. "The love and prayers were phenomenal."