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TEAM DEMUTH No One Fights Alone
Dan DeMuth, along with his wife, Lisa, and children Jake, Maddie and Mikey were in attendance in early February when Northside Elementary School held an assembly for the family. Lisa DeMuth is a first-grade teacher at the school. Staff and students presented the family with an orange ribbon, handmade from pictures and cards of the students to show their support for the DeMuth family as Dan battles Stage IV kidney cancer.

For some, receiving a diagnosis for a rare or life-threatening disease can feel isolating. Many patients get numb when their new reality of mortality is staring them directly in the face.

Trying to mentally — and emotionally — process the words “you have cancer” can be downright impossible, let alone taking the next steps of making a plan with doctors and spreading the news to family, loved ones and friends.

Monroe’s Dan DeMuth faced that challenge this past fall when he was diagnosed with Stage IV kidney cancer that had metastasized, meaning it had spread. 

It started with an unexpected bleed on Oct. 16. A CT scan was performed on Nov. 2, and the next day the urologist gave Dan the grim results.

“After having a cat scan and finding out it was cancer, the day I got the news I was numb and scared,” said DeMuth, who works for the USDA Farm Service Agency. “I knew there would be so many questions, and all I really knew was I had cancer, everything else was kind of a fog after I heard the C-word.”

His wife, Lisa, a first-grade teacher at Northside Elementary, took over like Superwoman. 

“She buckled in with the mindset of we will do whatever we need to do, and she will be by my side through anything and everything. She was quick to show me that we were a team,” Dan said.

His symptoms started and grew abruptly in October of last year. At first, doctors thought he was having bladder or prostate issues. He was in and out of the emergency room five times in one week. Two weeks after his first visit to seek care, he had his diagnosis. The next month was filled with appointments, meeting teams of doctors, getting scans and planning for surgery, which finally happened on Jan. 9.

Not only did his wife step up to the plate, but scores of neighbors and friends from around the Monroe area. Events were held, T-shirts distributed, food trains created — the members of the community joined by the dozens to show their support and raise funds for the DeMuth family. 

Co-workers helped with yard work and hanging Christmas lights, and people from all over the region sent get well cards. 

Chris Soukup, co-owner of Baumgartner’s on the square, has known Dan for years, first through the Lions Club, and then as a part of the comedy club that has put on stand-up shows at Monroe Theatre Guild for more than a decade. Soukup and the other members of the comedy friends group put on a performance at Turner Hall last month, selling more than 350 tickets and raising $7,000 for the DeMuth family.

“It’s really unfortunate he’s going through this, but it does show another side of Monroe, a very positive side of our community,” Soukup said. “Dan and Lisa have a really hard time accepting help from other people  because they are the ones that are usually the helpers. They want to help others and not feel like they are the burden.”

Soukup himself can relate to the struggles of Dan and his family. Soukup’s own mother died of an extremely rare form of cancer at age 46 that just “came out of nowhere,” he said.

“The shock of being that young and facing that kind of battle, it’s awful,” Soukup said.

Northside Elementary held a special assembly for the DeMuths on Feb. 7, where students and staff presented the family with a special banner made up of orange ribbons.

Lisa created a Facebook group called Team DeMuth, and on Dec. 4 began documenting Dan and the family’s journey on

“To think all of this started a month ago seems insane. It feels like Cancer has been part of our family for months,” Lisa wrote that first day.

Within six weeks post surgery, the DeMuth family was having dinners out at restaurants again. Lisa shared on Feb. 18 that Dan was looking forward to the first week in months without a doctors visit.

Dan has worn many hats around the community and is known for his jovial attitude, quick wit and friendly nature. He recently shared his medical journey and experiences with the Times. 

“But I wanted to really emphasize two things,” DeMuth said. “1. My wife is amazing and the best thing to ever happen to me. 2. This community has blown me away and given me so much love and support and I am here for good.”

Can you give me the approximate timeline of when you started noticing problems, first went to the doctor, got diagnosed, prepared for and then ultimately had surgery?

I started seeing symptoms mid-October and within two weeks found out it was Stage IV kidney cancer that had metastasized. It seemed like the next month was full of appointments, scans and images, and I went in for surgery January 9th.

What was your reaction like along the way? First with the symptoms/problems, then finding out the diagnosis?

When it all started I was frustrated because I was in and out of the emergency room five times the first week. They seemed to think it was definitely bladder or prostate issues and I have never experienced anything like it before, so I had no idea what could be going on. After having a CT scan and finding out it was cancer, the day I got the news I was numb and scared. Numb and in a fog hearing “you have cancer” and scared of all of the unknowns, as well as knowing I would need to tell the people I love the most — my wife and kids — the news. I knew there would be so many questions and all I really knew was I had cancer, everything else was kind of a fog after I heard the C-word.

What were the reactions of your wife and children?

My wife’s reaction, I could tell deep down inside she was worried and scared, but she didn’t say or show it. She buckled in with the mindset of we will do whatever we need to do and she will be by my side through anything and everything. She was quick to show me that we were a team through health and sickness and through good and bad. She was amazing and right by my side from the first second. The kids were kind of quiet and confused. You could tell they had a lot of questions but I don’t think they knew the magnitude of the battle our family would be up against. We kept the details pretty short and light out of the gates with them.

How important was it for you to have your wife to be at your side through it all, as an advocate at health visits, as an at-home nurse, and to simply keep everything in check as a caregiver?

I am blessed way more than I deserve. Lisa took the caregiver role from the second I told her what I was dealing with. She would go to EVERY emergency room visit, and then once diagnosed, she took charge of all of the doctors, and appointments, and the insurance, and all that comes with it out of the gates — all while still being a rock for our family and for keeping our day-to-day lives on track. I was in a fog, confused and scared, but she took charge and made sure what needed to be scheduled and in place was taken care of. 

I felt so supported and I was beyond blessed to have her by my side! She truly was my biggest motivator, advocate and tag team partner from Day 1! She kept me on track with the medical journey and helped me navigate through my personal and professional life as well. It was easy to not give up and feel self pity because she was always in my corner reminding me “We got this.”

What can you say about your employer and colleagues, as well as your wife’s, and how they have rallied, been supportive and provided time off?

I work for the USDA Farm Service Agency and they were supportive and caring from Day 1 — even before I knew it was cancer! Anytime I needed off for testing, imaging, follow-up appointments or was dealing with complications, they told me I would have whatever I needed and I would be off at any time for anything. They were reassuring that work was the last thing I needed to worry about. 

They also reassured me that they supported us personally and would do anything they could to help — all we had to do was ask and we would receive. They also allowed me to telework anytime I needed to, so instead of driving to Madison, I was home and close by if or when issues or symptoms occurred. I am so unbelievably thankful for my boss, Tom Brandt (Farm Loan Chief), and all of my teammates in the FSA State office, because their generosity and support was evident and outpouring from Day 1. It relieved what was potential stress from a major part of my life. It was so nice being able to forget work and focus solely on my treatment plan and my wife and children.

Lisa’s school was very understanding and accommodating as well. She was able to be off at any time she needed and we felt the personal care and support from her boss/coworkers as well!

Battling through a traumatic disease is hard enough on its own, but having the community rally behind you — what was that like? 

It was overwhelming how much love and support the community show our family from the second the word got out! Letters, cards, prayers, motivation, inspiration, and offers to help in any way were in full force from Day 1. It was obvious and clear that I/we would not fight alone! 

I couldn’t wrap my head around how many people in this community cared about me and my family and were ready to help with anything they could. It seemed like in a matter of days “Team DeMuth” was created and our family went from a team of five to a team of hundreds! 

Within a few days Northside school teachers and even some spouses and their kids came to our house, raked and cleaned our yard, put away deck furniture and summer decorations and got all of our winter prep completed and even put out our Christmas decorations and hung our lights. Even though I felt uncomfortable and bad that they were doing all of this for us, it touched my heart very deeply and assured me that we had a loyal and loving team behind us. 

I was blown away by the loving words and actions by so many people in this community, it almost felt like a fairytale. I had no idea we meant so much to so many people in the community and it cemented the fact that Lisa and I felt like this was the place we were thankful to plant a few roots and call HOME.

Facebook groups, T-shirts, meal trains, events — the community has showed out for you and your family. How does it feel to know that you and your family have had that kind of an impact on the community, or rather, what does it say about the community in general on how they band together?

TEAM DEMUTH, T-shirt sales, Facebook page, Christmas cookie sales, school assemblies, comedy shows, meal trains, helping with or keeping the kids so we could be at an appointment with little to no notice, it was mind blowing the love and support from the community! They showed up and showed out! It’s amazing what the hard times can reveal — like who shows up, who walks away and who’s for real. This community showed up and never walked away. This community was for real! 

Daily we would receive cards with such thoughtful loving words and different things to help our family in some way shape or form. 

It felt like that fairytale again! I felt like we could never give back enough to the people of this community to show how thankful we were of their caring acts and generosity. We felt invincible because we had the biggest, the strongest, and the most loyal team behind us. TEAM DEMUTH is/was amazing and we never had to fight one day of this battle alone! It makes it easier going to battle knowing your team is massive and behind you 1,000%.

From this entire experience, what have you learned about yourself? Has it changed any of your viewpoints or philosophies on life?

This whole experience has taught me just how amazing and generous this community is. It taught me what goes around comes around when you least expect it, but may need it the most! 

From the time Lisa and I came to Monroe, we tried to get involved and help out in ways that could make life a little easier for someone else or for another family. We tried to make sure there were times that we put our own interests aside and put somebody or something before ourselves and show genuine interest, care, and support for them and their situation.  

It is also important for us to instill these values and beliefs in our children, and they were able to see first hand that when you put others before yourself, one day it will come back around and you will receive the same love and support — but sometimes it is greater than you expect.  But when we help others and do things for the right reasons, the return is humbling and amazing! Our family has been deeply touched and humbled by so many people in this community!

This journey has changed a few philosophies on life for me: Live for TODAY! Yesterday’s bad news can’t be undone and we are not guaranteed a tomorrow, so just make every day count and try and make a memory with the ones we love and care closest to us. If we had expiration dates on the bottom of our feet, I wouldn’t have the guts to pick it up and look at it, so I am just going to do everything in my power to make today a great day for myself and the people around me!

The biggest lesson has been that in this community, NO ONE FIGHTS ALONE! You hear it all of the time, but you don’t know if it’s true or if it’s just lip service. I found out. In this community — for my family and I first-hand — NO ONE FIGHTS ALONE! 

We came to Monroe in 2005 for a reason, even though we hadn’t yet known the reason. Well, I think this journey has been our reason. We wanted a place to call home and a community that loved us just like family. Well, we found that right here in Monroe: A community that has supported us, fought with us, and blessed us maybe far more than we deserve. 

We love this community! And we love that NO ONE FIGHTS ALONE here!