There are few certainties in life, but, as we all eventually learn, having to face a serious challenge at some point is one of them. For some people, it might be loss. For others, it might be failure. Life’s tests of our strength and determination come in many forms.
In August, it was publicized in an Idaho Mountain Express news story that I am battling multiple myeloma, a serious type of blood cancer in which malignant plasma cells from the bone marrow multiply, form tumors and damage the body’s bones and organs. I have been fighting this cancer for about three years, since March 2017, when tests revealed that a malignant tumor growing in my spine had broken one of my vertebrae. Since that time, as I have continued to work as the editor of the Express, I have been closely monitored and have undergone a long list of medical procedures. After imaging showed last year that cancer colonies were amassing on bones in several parts of my body, including my spine, shoulder blades, pelvic region and thighs, my doctors initiated a four-month chemotherapy regimen that I am finishing this month.
Now, in an attempt to reach remission, I am scheduled to have an aggressive second phase of treatment. It requires a very strong form of chemotherapy to eliminate my body’s bone marrow and any lingering cancer cells, followed by a complex blood stem-cell transplant, to produce new bone marrow that hopefully stays cancer-free for years to come. These procedures and a period of recovery will require that my role of leading the newsroom be interrupted.
As this situation unfolded, the Express took a series of actions to ensure that the newsroom continues to effectively cover our region and bring readers quality, informative newspapers every Wednesday and Friday. Reporter Mark Dee, who started working at the Express in August 2017, has been promoted to full-time associate editor, a new role in the company. Mark—who holds a graduate degree in journalism from Columbia University—brings a breadth of experience and a strong sense of mission to his work. As associate editor, he will serve as the chief editor of the newspaper in my absence. Meanwhile, our copy editor, Greg Moore, will continue in his role, and the other members of the staff will continue to cover news, events, sports and the arts.
To fill the spot on the reporting staff left open by Mark’s promotion, we have hired reporter Gretel Kauffman, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. Gretel has previously worked as a reporter for the Times-News in Twin Falls and the Deseret News in Salt Lake City. Gretel will cover a variety of beats for us, including Blaine County government and the School District.
Having worked at the Express since 2002—as editor since 2006, except for one year working in a part-time role—I will certainly miss the buzz of the newsroom and the camaraderie of getting our work into our print editions and onto our website. Yet, I am certain that my departure this week to prepare for additional treatment will be seamless, and our team will continue to produce award-winning newspapers.
For those of you in the community interested in getting more information about my status and care, go to gofundme.com/f/greg039s-battle-against-cancer. In the future, updates on my condition will be posted through the website service CaringBridge, at caringbridge.org.
I look forward to returning to work at the Express after my recovery.
Greg Foley, longtime editor of the Idaho Mountain Express, lives in Sun Valley.