Mayor turns to family, faith as he heals

FAIRMONT – Cancer may have briefly sidelined Fairmont Mayor Randy Quiring, but he’s not out of the game yet, not by a longshot.

Quiring is an easily recognizable public figure in Fairmont, and not just due to his lanky 6-foot-6 frame. The Fairmont native gladly touts the merits of his city to anyone who will listen. When an opponent tried to insult him, calling him an “overactive, cheerleading mayor,” he accepted it as a compliment.

Making lemonade out of lemons is a trait Quiring is known for, but his chipper countenance was challenged this summer when he learned that the vision problems he was experiencing were not due to a detached retina but ocular melanoma. On Aug. 2, a month after he announced the news of his diagnosis to constituents, his eye was removed in same-day surgery.

Since then, he has been reprioritizing a few things in life.

“Cancer may have taken my eye, but it’s also strengthened my faith, it’s strengthened my marriage, it’s strengthened my family life, it’s strengthened me as a person,” he said.

Quiring has always been a family man, but time with his wife and children is more precious than ever before. The same is true of his relationship with God.

At St. John Vianney Catholic Church, which Quiring attends, a room is set aside for Adoration, which congregants can reserve for an hour at a time to quietly sit and pray.

“That’s become my most enjoyable hour of the week,” said Quiring, who recently spoke in front of the St. John Vianney congregation to encourage more people to take time for Adoration.

“I probably wouldn’t have gone to Adoration yet today if not for my cancer. I probably would not have had that time with Jesus,” said Quiring, who openly acknowledges his faith and his humor have both been pivotal in his fight with cancer.

“I tell people, ‘Cancer brings you to your knees,'” he said.

Melanoma, in particular, is a tough diagnosis. It’s a fast-spreading, aggressive type of cancer. Doctors told Quiring they removed all the cancer when they removed his eye, but he remains at high risk. Every six months for the next 15 years, he will have to travel to Rochester for a checkup.

“I’ve heard it said that having melanoma is like belonging to the mafia – you can never get away from it,” Quiring said.

However tempting it may be some days, sitting in the corner crying is not an option Quiring is willing to accept. He took a brief, unofficial break from his duties as mayor as he recovered from his surgery, but he is now back in action. This week, he was back on the air for his monthly talk with KFMC radio personality JK on “The Afternoon Train Wreck.”

“Some things were put on hold for a while, but now my vision out of one eye has become the new norm, and knowing I have cancer is the new norm,” he said.

Before the end of the year, Quiring will have a prosthetic eye. In the meantime, his family gave him a little figurine of Mike Wazowski from the Pixar animated film “Monsters, Inc,” which Quiring keeps in his insurance office.

“My kids want me to get a cat’s eye, or one with a Vikings logo,” he said, laughing, “but I think we’ll just go with a regular eye to match the one I’ve got.”