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Farm Rescue helps North Dakota farmer with cancer harvest his crops

The Muhs family poses for a photo in front of one of the Farm Rescue combines on Friday, Aug. 17. (Sydney Mook / Forum News Service

LANGDON, N.D.—Harvest is a busy time for farmers, presenting long, taxing days for producers and their families.

Adding a cancer diagnosis into the mix can cause even more stress, but groups like Farm Rescue try to relieve that so patients can focus on fighting the disease.

One of those farmers is Mike Muhs, a Langdon farmer who was was diagnosed with "adenocarcinoma of an unknown origin" in April, shortly before spring planting.

Muhs was able to get help planting his crops in the spring, and Farm Rescue helped him with harvesting Friday afternoon.

"It's kind of humbling," Muhs said. "I've been battling cancer since the spring, and you quickly realize what kind of support system you need. To have people that just show up to come help from across the country is great. It's hard to believe there are people out there that will do that."

Farm Rescue helps farmers and ranchers who have had a major illness, injury or natural disaster by providing the necessary equipment and manpower to plant, hay or harvest their crop.

Volunteers from across the country take the time out of their spring and summers to help farmers across the Midwest plant and harvest crops, said Dan Erdmann, marketing communications officer for Farm Rescue. The organization helps farm and ranch families in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska and Iowa.

Muhs has spent part of his spring and summer traveling to and from Grand Forks for treatment, with occasional trips to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. A recent check up seems to show Muhs is headed in the right direction and is beginning to get his strength back.

"Things are moving in the right direction," Muhs said. "We have progress."

Muhs said doctors still aren't sure how the cancer started, despite undergoing a number of tests.

Farm Rescue debuted a new combine while working on the Muhs farm. The machinery was purchased using a $250,000 grant from the Engelstad Foundation.

The community also has rallied around the Muhs family. In July, locals held a benefit for Muhs and raised more than $60,000 for the family. Muhs said he hoped a few friends and some volunteers would show up.

Instead an estimated 800 to 1,000 people showed up.

"It was a very happy but sad day," he said. "Just to know that there's that kind of support out there in the community, it's humbling. Until you go through it, you don't understand."

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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