Most people probably would like to lose at least one month of their lives at some point, but not under the circumstances Bob Carter has had to go through.
Carter, a lieutenant on the city's police force, discovered in March that he had a large tumor just under his brain. After 80 percent of the tumor was removed during two surgeries at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, he found his memories of the past month were dim at best."I have a period in my life that's just blank," Carter said. Since late April, he has been undergoing radiation treatments at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center to eliminate the remainder of the tumor, within a web of blood vessels supplying the brain.
Radiation and resulting medicinal treatments have left Carter feeling bloated but reduced his weight from 200 pounds to 174. Doctors also have run two shunts - one in his head and another in his chest - to drain excess fluids from the afflicted area.
However, he remains upbeat and positive about his return to active duty, which could be as early as July.
"We still haven't gotten all the results back from Duke University, so we don't even know if I have cancer," he said. "But I'm glad we at least caught the tumor when we did and are zapping it now."
Carter's problems actually began in November when he noticed unusually long periods of neck pain and sinus troubles that wouldn't go away, even under antibiotic treatment.
Eventually, the tumor was diagnosed, and after the seven-week radiation treatment is finished, Carter said, he's planning a full recovery.
"There's nothing they've indicated to me at this point that would keep me away for long."He said that so far the only adverse effects of the treatment are weakness, some memory loss and his inability to do what he knows best - his job.
"I'm just trying to get stronger and to be able to get out and do what I did before. I have to admit I miss everybody, but there's no doubt in my mind that I'll be able to go back to work."
Perhaps what has been most heartening for Carter is the response of the community. He was named the city's outstanding employee for April. Mayor Richard Harmer, presenting Carter with an award, said Carter's absence "really made me aware of his ability. I thought that I had learned to work well with young folks, but Lieutenant Carter is a master at it."
Carter, though, said he is a little awestruck at the reactions. "I don't know if there's anything unusual about me. I don't really think I'm so special. I look back and feel like I'm lucky, especially since I expect to make a full recovery."
However, Payson Police Chief Jim Box said the city realizes how lucky it is to have a Bob Carter.
"He's just a terrific man. That's all there is to it. He's done an excellent job for the city over the last 18 years."
Carter is perhaps the city's most high-profile officer besides Box, because he talks to youth groups and works with Boy Scout troops.
"He really is a role model and someone the kids can turn to," Box said. "He works with school activities and the Payson Chamber of Commerce. He's someone for the community to look up to, and he's not gone unnoticed."