Sen. Jim Metzen battles cancer again, political future remains uncertain

Sen. Jim Metzen stops by the Kaposia Convenience Center in South St. Paul to support a new promotion to support breast cancer research. Currently battling cancer himself, he was the first to use the station's pink pump earlier this month.  (submitted photo)
Sen. Jim Metzen stops by the Kaposia Convenience Center in South St. Paul to support a new promotion to support breast cancer research. Currently battling cancer himself, he was the first to use the station's pink pump earlier this month. (submitted photo)
Sen. Jim Metzen stands outside of the State capitol last winter. The Cathedral of St. Paul can be seen from the steps of the Capitol. (file photo)
Sen. Jim Metzen stands outside of the State capitol last winter. The Cathedral of St. Paul can be seen from the steps of the Capitol. (file photo)
Inver Grove Heights Mayor George Tourville and Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, pose with Metzen at Inver Grove Heights Days 2010. (file photo)
Inver Grove Heights Mayor George Tourville and Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, pose with Metzen at Inver Grove Heights Days 2010. (file photo)

After living nearly two and a half years cancer-free, Sen. Jim Metzen, DFL-South St. Paul, is about to start a new round of treatment. On a routine visit to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, doctors detected a new patch of cancer in his lung, as well as his back and a few other places.

While Metzen, 71, says the prognosis "could be better," he's still feeling good and will start chemotherapy treatment tomorrow.

"The good news is I don't have to take the regular chemo stuff. I can take pills, which is not as invasive," he told the Review.

This course of treatment, administered through Mayo Clinic, will allow him to stay home for treatment, he says, rather than drive down to Rochester every day.

"We're fighting a good fight. I'm feeling pretty good, and I'm still as handsome as ever," he says with a laugh.

For now, he's thankful for the outpouring of phone calls and emails he's been receiving.

"People are very concerned," he says. "That helps get you through this stuff, when you see support from others."

Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, expressed sadness over the news when he shared the update on his state Legislature web page yesterday afternoon.

"I am sure that Jim would appreciate hearing from you if you would like to send him a card or letter," he writes, sharing Metzen's home address, 312 Deerwood Court, South St. Paul. "Please keep both of them [Jim and his wife Sandie] in your prayers."

Metzen has been serving in the state Legislature for 40 years -- a run that distinguishes him as one of the most seasoned members of the Minnesota Senate. He joined as a House member in 1974, at age 30, and served as the Senate president from 2003 to 2011. He currently chairs the Senate's Commerce Committee.

While he waits out the next few months, to see how his body responds to treatment, he's still hopeful that he'll be able to continue serving at the state Capitol when the next Legislative session begins in March.

But if he's not able to rebound this time around, he says, he'll be the first one to admit it and move on.

"There are things that need to get done," he says, listing funding for the Robert Street reconstruction project, tax reductions and the Mighty Ducks bill as a few of his top priorities.

"If I'm feeling good, I want to help get them done. If I'm not feeling good, I'll accept that and move on."

Certainly no stranger to perseverance, the retired banker, veteran hockey player and senior senator is prepared to push forward.

"Certainly, health is No. 1," he says. "But I'm not calling it quits yet."

Erin Hinrichs can be reached at 651-748-7814 and ehinrichs@lillienews.com. Follow her at twitter.com/EHinrichsNews.

 

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