Job Lorenzen was handed what sounded like a death sentence.
Lorenzen had previously “beaten” esophageal cancer.
He went in for a routine follow-up exam and expected to hear business-as-usual news.
Instead, three tumors were discovered in his lungs.
During a subsequent doctor chat, life expectancy was estimated at three months to six years.
Lorenzen was urged to spend as much time with his daughter before the inevitable.
“Walking out of that office that day, my world was turned upside down,” Lorenzen said. “I wanted to cry. I felt like walking in front of a truck. I had fears of leaving my family behind, fears of my daughter only remembering me as someone who got sick and withered away to nothing.”
Lorenzen’s story isn’t just one of becoming a two-time cancer survivor and a two-time dad.
It’s the story of how a second opinion, of all things, led to him fulfilling his destiny of becoming an Oklahoman.
Lorenzen, 40, relocated from Nebraska to Owasso almost two years ago with his wife, Sarah, and their daughters, 7-year-old Allison and 4-year-old Lindley. Lorenzen said he has fallen in love with the Tulsa metro area. He was introduced to the area because that’s where the second opinion sent him.
Lorenzen was living in Omaha when he got the “death sentence.” The days that followed were a blur, but he remembers that his radiation oncologist told him to get a second or third opinion instead of settling for what he had been told.
Lorenzen’s wife reached out to Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Within days, they were rolling down the highway to the Tulsa location, where Lorenzen was (A) presented with options and (B) was asked to remove his socks and shoes. The request came from Dr. Theodore Pollock, who asked Lorenzen what he saw on those bare feet. Nothing? That’s right.
“God does not put expiration dates on us,” Pollock told Lorenzen.
In September, Lorenzen will — knock on wood — celebrate five years of being cancer-free.
Positive experiences at Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tulsa (Lorenzen referred to staffers as family) convinced him that Tulsa was where he needed to go to get well. But he did not immediately move to Oklahoma. For 3½ years, Lorenzen round-tripped from Nebraska to Tulsa. He made the trek every three to four weeks during the first year. He drove the route so many times that he said he could do it blindfolded.
“We found a couple of different ways to go back to spice it up a little bit and keep it interesting,” he said.
Lorenzen was accompanied by his wife or father during the trips. He said both were “floating” after they learned in September 2014 that his scans were clean.
Recalling the day the good news arrived, Lorenzen said he experienced genuine sadness when he walked out of the facility — and he knows that sounds weird because you never feel bad about being cancer-free. But he was going to miss all the people he had become attached to during the get-well process.
He’s a lot closer to them now.
“From my time down here, I had kind of gotten to the point where I was wanting to move here,” he said. His wife, a lifelong Nebraskan, gave her consent. He transferred from Cox Communications in Omaha to a Cox job in Tulsa. He said Cox was supportive of him throughout his cancer battles.
Lorenzen stayed quiet during his first cancer bout but now capitalizes on opportunities to share his story. He wants to provide hope for others. He shared details about how this has happened during face-to-face encounters.
“Losing was never an option,” he said.
Lorenzen was asked what factors clinched his move to Oklahoma. There’s one that will get mentioned at the end, but he also said this:
“I would like to consider myself a family man, so some of the days away from the girls were hard,” he said. “As we spent time down here, there is something special about the people here, right? You open a door for someone, they say ‘thank you.’ People aren’t rude. People down here genuinely seem wholesome, and they are nice. That was a draw.”
And that’s not to say people aren’t nice in other places, but, with warmer weather in Oklahoma, Lorenzen saw so many people doing family-oriented things outdoors. His girls, like other kids, love electronic gadgets, but they love Turkey Mountain and other outdoor adventure areas, too.
The other reason for the move to Oklahoma? The seed was planted long ago. When Lorenzen was a kid, he told his parents he would someday live in Florida or Oklahoma. Florida has oceans and beaches, so it makes sense that those things would appeal to a kid. Oklahoma? Lorenzen doesn’t know where the Oklahoma attraction came from, though he is a big Oklahoma State University sports fan and once served an internship in the athletic ticket office there.
Lorenzen made it to Oklahoma. He wouldn’t wish his path on others. But he’s glad he settled here: “Oklahomans in general are some of the most genuine, sincere, nice, amazing people God has put on this planet.”