MARSHFIELD NEWS-HERALD | STEVENS POINT JOURNAL | WAUSAU DAILY HERALD | WISCONSIN RAPIDS DAILY TRIBUNE | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
INSPIRE. ENGAGE. MOTIVATE.
TARA MONDLOCH Delves Into Her Story Of Hope, Strength And Courage
KEEP THE MEMORIES ALIVE Of Those Loved Who Have Been Lost
TERMINAL BRAIN CANCER Patient Is Beating The Odds
Helping Others — Now and Forever Buck Parker came home from Vietnam and created a paradise on an old farm in central Wisconsin. He hosts fellow veterans who find peace fishing in his ponds. When melanoma spread through his body and his UW Carbone Cancer Center doctor suggested a clinical trial, Buck said yes. He wanted to help others even if it was too late for him. It wasn’t. The experimental drug melted his tumors. He’s more than five years cancer free. And that new immunotherapy drug is now FDA approved and saving others’ lives. Hear Buck’s story and learn more about clinical trials at uwhealth.org/cancertrials
YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
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Left to right: Josephine Harter, MD, Paul Weisman, MD, Aparna Mahajan, MD and Christopher Flynn, MD, PhD
The most important doctors youâ€™ll never meet Your pathology report is crucial to getting the correct diagnoses and treatment plan for your breast cancer. Patients at UW Health benefit from the experience and expertise of these doctors who specialize in examining breast tissue. Each breast cancer is reviewed by at least two pathologists and these doctors determine the precise type and features of your cancer. They share this information with your care team which then allows
your providers to recommend the best treatment plan personalized for you and your specific cancer diagnosis. And while you may never meet these doctors, rest assured, you are the most important patient they will never meet. To learn more about the UW Health Breast Center, visit uwhealth.org/breastcenter
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SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 from the editor It’s a word that hits home for many and has the capability to stir up vivid memories. It can steal all the breath from your lungs, shake your world as you know it, show you just how precious the present time is, create strong bonds between perfect strangers and bring people closer together than ever before. Cancer. This edition is for everyone battling the disease, survivors, caregivers, all the souls that have been affected by it and those who were taken far too quickly from the living world as a result. In an instant, time can stand still as you attempt to grasp an understanding of the magnitude of the words leaving the lips of the medical professional. It’s a moment that for some can be easy to remember exactly what you were doing, where you were and the overwhelming emotion felt as you learned the dreadful news. This is a reminder that we are here for you. For those of you who weep in solitude as you do your best to appear strong to those around you as well as for those who are still processing and grappling with the destruction left after the diagnosis. No matter which way you are affected by the disease, remember you’re not alone.
As morose as some may find it, one day we will all be at death’s door. It’s a fact that we will all cross that pathway to learn what’s truly on the other side. It’s perfectly natural and normal to grieve. When experiencing trauma, it’s crucial to respect the mourning process of those going through it and it’s common to feel certain feelings. I think it’s imperative to discuss death as uncomfortable as some may be regarding the topic. We will all make that transition at some point so take time to pursue your passions and the things you adore while you’re still here to do so. Time is fleeting, adventures are calling and positive differences are just waiting to be made.
YOU MAGAZINE STAFF General Manager LAURIE BOLLE Editors SARI LESK and TIM LANGTON Advertising Manager TARA MONDLOCH Graphic Artist MARIE RAYOME-GILL Magazine Coordinator/Content Designer STARLA GOLIE Photography JACOB BYK LAURA SCHMITT HILLER SARI LESK SERENA SBLENDORIO MARIE WALKOWSKI YOUR CONTACT content & advertising information TARA MONDLOCH 715-297-7514 firstname.lastname@example.org YOU MAGAZINE is published by Wisconsin Media and contents of the magazine are by the USA Today Network. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior consent of the USA Today Network. YOU MAGAZINE 1200 3rd Street Stevens Point, WI 54481 144 North Central Avenue Marshfield, WI 54449 101 West Riverview Expy #131 Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54495 800 Scott Street Wausau, WI 54403
Magazine Coordinator/Content Designer
Contact the studio to schedule your holiday portraits! www.walkowskiphoto.com email@example.com 715.218.0636 ** Mention this ad and get a complimentary gift SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 11
13 Cancer Chronicles 20 Tara Mondloch A Tale Of Strength, Hope And Inspiration 24 Reconstructing After Cancer 30 Staying Positive Through The Journey 36 Finding The Path To Recovery 38 Kris Janse-Dinkelâ€™s Memory Lives On 42 Tattoos Offer Fresh Start From Cancer 44 Marshfield Mom Knows Cancers Impact 46 Remembering A Mother 48 Moving Forward 50 In Your Words
26 Local Day Spas With Oncology Services 90 The Scene
40 Top Events: Our Picks Of Places That Offer Support.
5 Restaurants Offer Healthy Menu Options 8 86 Food & Drink 87 Recipe Makeover
4 Doctor On The Cutting Edge Of Cancer Fight 3 82 Cancer Patients Suffer Through Futile Treatments 83 Cancer Patients To Be Matched With Watson Program 84 Two Years After Brain Surgery, Lindwall Runs In RTO
28 A Shop We Love That Offers Hope 32 Shopping Diva Top 6
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BY TARA MONDLOCH PHOTOS BY TARA MONDLOCH & LINDSEY MARIE PHOTOGRAPHY
DECEMBER 29. Day was a good one. I had two drains removed, not bad. It would have been better to get all of them but beggars can’t be choosers. I was a little nervous about the removal, I asked Dr. Gottlieb if it hurts. His response was “yes it does.” Well that is not what I had expected but he said he could have lied but then I would tell people my doctor lied to me which is a valid point. It wasn’t too bad and he said everything else is looking really good. Even my black nipple, he says it’ll probably come back and that it’s from Seydel needing to scrape really close to make sure she got everything. I’m ok with that. It’s better than worrying about the cancer coming back right? And while I like my nipples, I’ve been with them a long time, I’m not heartbroken. The best thing was hearing I wouldn’t be facing another potential surgery. Dr. Gottlieb asked what size I wanted to go with. Hhhmmmmm, I could have said a lot of things but really don’t want to have to invest in an all new bra inventory so I’ll go with the same or as close as possible that he can do. He said that with what he’s seeing people won’t be able to tell anything. The scars will be faded and underneath so all in all I’ll look “normal.” AND I can shower, like a real shower. Not sure how I’m going to hook those drains up while I do but I’ll figure something out. I won’t have feeling in most of my chest which is just a side effect of the surgery as a whole and a small price to pay I think. Dying is permanent as my sister would say. Next week when I go, I get to have the other drains and the expanders will start to be filled. That will be a little weird but all part of the trip I guess. Through this whole thing Pep and I keep saying how many people we are finding out have had something like this or much much worse. It’s so common and the 1 in 8 thing doesn’t really stick until you’re the 1 in 8. The biggest thing in all of this is hearing all of the support. Many friends from way back are touching base and it’s nice to hear from them. The support is amazing, the nicest thing is there’s
not the sympathy or feeling sorry. Empathy I can do, I do not like being felt sorry for and they all seem to know this somehow. So after the appointment my Jessica and I hit Target. The comical thing is I bought two new bras, not that I can wear them for a while but hey, it’s something to look forward to and I like bras. DECEMBER 30. It’s amazing how much a person misses something as basic as a full shower. While I appreciated the addition of the hand held shower my Pep installed and it felt good to “half shower,” it’s not the same as a full shower. The problem that’s presented at this time is I still have two drains. I can’t very well just leave them dangling so how am I going to attempt this. Sorry for the gruesomeness but it’s real and actually not as bad now that there are only the two. It’s the first time that I’m seeing the full frontal effect of what’s been done. I had peeked but it was still mostly covered by bandages. I really didn’t want to look and figured I would wait but with all this drain business going on it wasn’t an option. While the incisions are less than I had expected, it’s still a pretty gruesome thing to see your body and what has been done to it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful to be alive. I count my blessings every day that this wasn’t worse but holy man it’s hard to not let that hit home. And yes since I cry in the shower I felt I was in the right room, so yes I cried a little. Me being the problem solver I am, I tie my swimsuit top around my neck, attach the drains to that and commence with my slow but amazing shower. It really is the small things like shaving your armpits, oh Lord that’s nice. Getting the swimsuit top off and the new “better” contraption on took me longer than
the actual shower but was well worth it. I have to say that I feel better in the new mastectomy bra I had bought. I’m glad I got three of them in different colors. They are pretty comfy and supportive and don’t look as “medical” as the other one. DECEMBER 31. Happy New Year’s Eve! It’s amazing to think that a little over two months ago, the plans and outlook for 2016 were very different than what they CHRONICLES CONTINUED ON PAGE 14 >>>
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are now. It’ll be a whirlwind year with a lot of appointments and changes with the reconstruction phases but in the end I’m hoping that the outcome is as good as possible. In the big picture I need to remember that I’m not dead, not dying and I’m a lucky one for what I was saved from. It’s still hard to stay positive every single day, it’s hard to know how Pep will react to everything. He keeps reminding me he fell in love with me not what I looked like and that he’s just happy to have me here and healthy, that all he wants is me. We’re not married and we don’t have plans to. We’ve both been down that road but despite the paperwork and matching name, I feel more committed to him than I could ever be. He assures me that he feels the same way, he loves me like I am his wife. What he’s done for me the past months has been more than I ever would have expected, more than I can ever repay him for. I could not have done this with the humor and courage that I feel I’ve had. My BFF from high school Tracey Manlick Palen stopped in to visit today. She was visiting from Kansas. She had the pleasure of seeing the expanders and feeling how hard they are, as well as taking a peek at the incisions. I think she was kind of surprised at how well I’m moving around, I’m surprising myself! But we have a big meal planned for NYE, shrimp and crab leg boil, which turned out to be a hit even with the picky eater. It’s really amazing what can be done to a person’s body and in a pretty short time frame how fast you can bounce back. I’ve always healed fast, normally I’ll be down and out for a short time frame but not normally to the extent of what others are. I’ve spent the week pushing myself a little more each day, moving more and 14 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
more. I cleaned the carpets, cleaned and organized the cupboards and got some other things done around the house. Friday was a good day “road tripping” as Pep and I call it. We made a lot of stops and grabbed a new shop vac for the garage as well as some other stuff for the bathroom to be painted. That’ll be next weekend. I need to have the drains out before I to try and do some more moving around. I’ve noticed many things in the past couple of months. I enjoy and notice the small things more like seeing Pep assemble the Shop Vac. I’ve noticed how many people are so supportive. I’ve heard a lot of feedback from old classmates as well as acquaintances thanking me for sharing this whole experience, it’s been amazing. We all see the commercials on TV about the support system and how many people are very supportive. I received the beautiful necklace and card from the wife of my cousin this weekend. The cards I’ve gotten from people who truly care and take the time to send a card means the world. JANUARY 4. CANCER FREE BABY. Two small words that really are quite amazing to hear. CANCER FREE. Tuesday was the best day I could have hoped for. Seeing my new buddy Dr. Gottlieb and having the last of those nasty drains removed was amazing. The fill process for the expanders was quite unnerving. Here’s the deal with YouTube, you can use it to either prepare for what’s coming OR freak yourself out. I accomplished both when viewing this video: https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=-bGdeeONw1o. It gave me a good idea of what to expect but when you see what they do, it’s kind of messed up. Doc Gottlieb didn’t need to use the little magical port finder, he was able to find it without. The cool thing is since I’m numb
now I had no need for them to numb me. I could feel pressure when they put the needle in but no pain. They fill until you feel slight discomfort and pressure. For me that was 70 cc on each side. I think the weirdest part was feeling them take the needle out. It feels like a slight pop and pressure but thankfully no pain. Dr. Seydel was next and she had all the final text results, CANCER FREE!!!! Yup, that’s me. Nothing had spread outside the tumors so no worries there and since there were such good margins, I wouldn’t need to see the oncologist or go on meds for the next 5 years. Life is good. No annual mammograms, no annual MRI’s to check anything spreading, no nothing! Well, I need to see Seydel once a year but that’s it. Now all I needed to do was finish the next phase of the reconstruction, have the expanders removed and permanent implants put in. My dear Pep is not looking forward to another surgery but I assured him this one would be a piece of cake compared to the one we just went through. No drains, just a couple of days of pain and then it would be better. JANUARY 9. Road Tripping. It’s a nice option to feel well enough to be able to do those “normal” things that were done prior to all of this. A road trip in the new truck with the boys is something that seems really “normal” for us, it’s something that we’d done beforehand but hadn’t done once we found out the news. We were too busy getting as many holiday things done as possible. Now I’m actually able to leave and make it through the whole day without feeling too exhausted. It’s odd to think that’s it’s only been 2.5 weeks since the surgery, as good as I’m feeling it seems like it should be longer. Pep is having a hard time believing how well I’m doing, it’s kind of shocking how
each day I’m able to do a little more. Started on the elliptical again. I’m only able to do about 15 minutes at a time but I’ve been trying to do that at least once a day. JANUARY 14. No, I did not win any of the billion dollar lottery but I got to thinking about the jackpot I have hit and that’s how and what my life is right now. It might seem odd for someone to say that after the surgery but when I think about all of the “bad” things that have happened to in my life, all of those things have now led me to where I am which is a pretty good spot from what I see. A little history and this might give people the understanding of why I think “it is what it is” should be my life motto. 1. Right before I was 15 I was in a car accident. I broke my hips and pelvis in 5 places, sounds awful right? Well it was, at the time. But what this taught me is that it could have been way worse. I could have died, others in the car could have died. I could have been hurt much worse, could have been paralyzed. I’m not, duh? Docs at the time said I may not be able to have kids which I did and they are pretty amazing kids. 2. Married twice, yeah I know, both of my marriages ended due to infidelity. Now you may be asking yourself how can that be something good? It wasn’t but it brought me to where I am today and since I couldn’t change the actions of others, it is what it is. 3. Dad died when he was in his early 40’s. I’ll say that this is the one instance that there is no good to be found but it is what it is. A person figures out what’s important and to enjoy life. This is how my dad lived his, full blast all the time. Humor got him through a lot and that same outlook works for my siblings and I. My poor mother. 4. Breast Cancer, yeah I know, the C word. But again it could have been way worse and it wasn’t. It isn’t.
I hit the jackpot! JANUARY 17. In the previous post I talked about how I hit the jackpot, NO I STILL HAVE NOT WON THE LOTTERY. But it got me thinking about my man friend. Historical reference points: Pep and I knew each other in high school. He says he remembers me, I think he’s being kind :). I hadn’t seen him in years. Until my ex-husband and I bought our new home 11 years ago, during one of the stops while it was being built, low and behold, there was Pep doing the plumbing. I’ll be honest I nearly fainted. Fast forward 11 years. I’m in the midst of the divorce era, out with my neighbors, Casey and Krista Krause aka Tomika Mosby at the local bar. I’m minding my own business,
as long as they didn’t include heights. I confessed to him that night about the huge crush I had on him in high school. I remember hearing the song by Tim McGraw, Not a Moment Too Soon, and that is exactly how I feel about Pep. It’s also the tattoo on my left wrist. Fast forward 2.5 years later, I couldn’t be happier. We’re enjoying the life we’ve built together, road trips, the Harley, Amish Sundays (we both enjoy cooking, a lot so at least once a month we spend a Sunday canning something, cooking and freezing something etc.). All of the kids are doing well, then BLAM, the cancer. (There should be some good music played after that). So keep in mind, we’re not married, we have not been together “THAT” long. Here’s where the proof is in the pudding. Pep was there every step of the way, all of the angst, the tears and the fear. He was there. We get home from the hospital and he’s already getting a hand held shower installed so I can shower. He washes my hair for me, strips the lines of the drains and basically is there for anything I need. Helping me get up, helping me sit. He cooks the Christmas ham, cleans and everything. So yeah I hit the jackpot. I remember telling him I was sorry, sorry about the cancer, sorry about what it was going to do to our lives. His response, it is what it is and maybe this is Gods way of bringing us closer together. Things happen for a reason he says, that’s why we’re together at all, it was meant to be us together, as a team. So yeah, cancer sucks. It’s an emotional roller coaster, not only for the person with it but for all of the friends and family, the supporters, the people that are there every step of the way. I just happen to be able to depend on my man friend, who also happens to be my best friend. JANUARY 18. I had made the decision not to use the inserts (booby pads) for the
Road Tripping. It’s a nice option to feel well enough to be able to do those “normal” things that were done prior to all of this. A road trip in the new truck with the boys is something that seems really “normal” for us, it’s something that we’d done beforehand but hadn’t done once we found out the news. having a blast, which is normal with the company I was keeping. During this time Tomika texts Mr. Pep and tells him to come to the bar. Needless to say when he walks in I was a little taken aback which is the polite way of saying “holy crap, he’s here.” The next day I get a text from Pep asking to get together. First “date” is on the back of his Harley, I’m asking myself at this point what in the hell am I doing? I’m almost 40 and getting on the back of a motorcycle. Oh well, here goes nothing. During the divorce era I had realized that for the last 3 years of my marriage I had been existing, not living. And realizing that made me promise myself that from that point on I was not going to just exist. I’m going to live, have fun, try new things that I normally wouldn’t, disclaimer being
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mastectomy bra, kind of thinking everyone at work is well aware of the situation. What I wasn’t prepared for was my own self-consciousness when Pep and I attended a birthday party Saturday night. It was during the last Packer game in the playoffs on January 16. I’m not used to seeing myself look like I do, shirts don’t fit the same way, I don’t look the same. I know I should be grateful for not having to deal with all of the issues and treatments. I should be grateful this all played out the way it did. BUT it sure is still hard most days to see what was done. My doc had asked if I’m depressed, said there’s support groups and that a lot of women feel some depression after the surgeries. I’m not depressed, I just try hard to not look, try to not have to see what was done. One things for sure, I am sure as heck not letting Pep see what it looks like. I mean right now they don’t even feel like me, they’re kind of foreign to me. It’s not hard to pretend that I’m still the person I was before but I know that I’m not. I just need to figure out who I am now after all of this. It’s not an easy thing to see yourself after everything that’s been done. I don’t know how I feel sometimes. I 16 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
know that Pep’s not going to see all of this until it’s done. I need to be able to pretend that he won’t care but it’s not something I want to risk either. I need to be able to pretend to myself that he’ll still find be “wantable.” That’s not even a word but I like to make things up. I know that these are “normal” feelings, I know that. But I don’t want to be “normal” I should be able to deal with these things better, I should be stronger than the “normal”. Physically I am but all of the internal fears are more than I expected. So for the time being I need to focus on the fact that they’re just boobs, right? I mean it’s not like I couldn’t fake it and wear the fake ones. They aren’t the most comfortable but it seems like I’m hiding something and in the big picture I’d rather face it and the looks than hide behind some falsies. Ok, that’s the feeling today, I can’t guarantee that won’t change but that’s my story today. Below is the 70 cc version of me. We’ll see what the 22nd brings. JANUARY 22. One doesn’t think that 50 cc’s would make much of a difference but it sure does. Doc Gottlieb said it’s about a half a cup size. While I don’t necessarily like going to the clinic, I have to say that at least my docs are pretty awesome. I did come to the conclusion that I do have some feeling in my right breast, how do I know this? Because the first “stick” missed the port and it was quite a shocker since I wasn’t prepared to feel anything. Regardless, I feel a little better with the profile I have now, it might not look like much of a change but it looks better than beforehand. Still not ready to expose Pep to the grim reality of what I look like, I think he will do better continuing to function in denial. Nice thing about all this is Doc Gottlieb said I’d maybe be able to have the final surgery in April or May. My daughter Aryn graduates at the end of May so I need to watch for that but the incision will only be about 2 inches. Doc said the recovery time isn’t nearly as hard and there are no drains. I may be sore because they’ll be cutting some scar tissue but considering how well I did after the big surgery I’m not too concerned. I am looking forward to having it done and being “normal.” Right now everything still feels like I’m in limbo and half way done and half way
not. Oh and for the record, expanders are quite firm. Those suckers could take out a brick wall. Thinking about all of this and trying to stay positive and keep my sense of humor seems to make it go by faster and seems like I have an outlet. I try to not let things bother me. Seeing “normal” people walk around and listening to the issues and problems people have puts things in perspective. I try to not minimize what others are dealing with but I do sit back and smile because it really is kind of comical listening to people trying to find a dress for an event while I’m looking for the next fill date so I can carry on with my life. But it also makes a person look at what they’re grateful for. Health insurance, sure I’ll have a hefty bill since we have the out of pocket minimum and I’ll be hitting that for two years since we did all of this over the holidays but the $20,000 will have to be taken care of in payments, better than no insurance. Pep, I can’t say thank you enough. There are a lot of people that would have bailed, he didn’t even when he could have. My job, funny how that ends up being in there but being able to work from home and keep me busy was a God send. My boss having a sense of humor like I do so we can joke around about how my cancer was convenient. If people heard what we said they would seriously think something was wrong with me/us. My kids, my family, all of these things that brought me to where I am here and now. Things happen for a reason and there are things that suck when we’re in the middle of dealing with them but they bring us to where we’re supposed to be in life for a reason. I don’t know what the reason is for having breast cancer but I’m sure there’s something coming. JANUARY 30. A good friend of mine shared this, after reading it and then sharing it there were several that hit close to home. Number 3 and 4, uuummm yeah. Number 7, I’m generally not a crowd type person, I’m not shy, shocking discovery I know. Definitely. Number 8, I try every day to not wake up with a pity party. It’s not like it’s going to change anything. I hate being afraid so I refuse to be. Number 9, kind of, it’s kind of a killjoy. “So how were your holidays?” Me: “well I had breast cancer and had my boobs cut off. How was yours?” Number 10, thank-
January 18 Profile - 70 cc
January 30 Profile - 120 cc
February 15 Profile - 220 cc
fully I can’t relate to. My tribe is amazing. Number 12, a little but I get it. Number 13, so true, for most people. I’m lucky so I probably downplay my cancer because it’s like decaffeinated stage 0. Number 14, oh hell yes. Number 15, just about every day is a struggle in some way. Numbers 16 and 17, I’m getting to see the after effects are brutal. http://www.buzzfeed.com/caseygueren/ its-more-than-pink-ribbons#.jtYA27DJ4 I’m not sharing my story to be an inspiration, it’s really something that’s helping me work through all of the things I need to in my head. But I have found that in sharing all of this with people, if I can give someone a little laugh, a little insight that maybe what they are feeling is pretty damn normal and just because it doesn’t fit the publicized stories that others have shared then I’m good with it. Not to mention I’m a talker, the more I can talk things out the better I am. But through all of this the comments from people I know well
and don’t know as well have been empowering. I don’t claim to be anything but me but when men I went to school with or know from way back post things like: “Tara, your determination and bravery should be an inspiration for everyone.” As well as “you are one tough woman, I’m proud to be your friend.” That is pretty amazing to me. They have nothing to gain but have given me a lot. FEBRUARY 5. I think that I’m surprising a lot of people. As I see more and more people and I look healthy, look normal for the most part at least, I keep getting the feeling that people expect me to look like a “cancer patient.” To look ill or sad. Or to be depressed maybe? I think people I see at work are surprised that I’m me, meaning I’m the same person with the same humor and the same drive, maybe a little more? I know I keep surprising Pep. He’d never been through something like this, meaning a medical or health scare like this, so he didn’t know what to expect.
Hell I didn’t know what to expect. I was expecting worse, expecting the pain to be worse and to last longer. I figured I’d be pretty down and out for longer than the 3-4 days. I thought for sure that I’d be down in the dumps for longer, maybe that’s still coming? I know that I always seem to have something to prove to myself. It comes from the car accident years and years ago. I heard so many thing of what I wouldn’t be able to do or things I’d have to stop doing and it started then for me to be able to prove them wrong. To prove I was tougher than what happened to me. I have carried that with me since I was 15. Life’s not fair, life can suck some days. But you’re living and things could be worse. Even back then, I could have been paralyzed, I could have never walked again!! But I did and I wasn’t, so move on and prove them wrong. People go through things and the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a true state-
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ment but there were times, and plenty of them that I hated that saying because I didn’t want to be stronger than I was. I didn’t want to have to be the strong one. But it’s who I am and who I’ve become. I should have a t-shirt made with some catchy saying, I need to work on that. FEBRUARY 10. Kind of an odd thing to think while you’re in the shower but it was kind of a shock when all of a sudden I have feeling on my right side, which for reference was the non-cancer side. This is good right? One would think so, it’s kind of a good thing that I’ll have feeling and be somewhat “normal” again right? I’m hoping so but on the flip side, I go in for a fill on Monday the 15th. Kind of romantic really, the day after Valentine’s Day and all. So what this means now is that I’ll definitely feel the needle on this one. Gottlieb had offered to numb the site but that just means two needle picks instead of the one and it would probably be about the same effect really. So I’ll opt out and deal with the joy of being able to feel them doing what they’re doing this time. I am looking forward to it. It’s been three weeks since I’ve been in and it’s felt like a waste of precious time towards having this done and me being put back together completely. I did share this new information with my Pep and he’s at kind of a loss. He’s seemed to have place an embargo on that area altogether, which I can’t blame him. There’s nothing appealing about what I have going on up there and I still refuse to let him be witness to the frankenboobies. 18 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
FEBRUARY 15. It’s been three weeks since I’ve been to the doc, longest time in between appointments since this all started back in November. I feel good and have been getting pretty impatient with the wait time but know that I don’t have much of a choice at this point. I’m going to try and cheat the two week standard wait time with the next appointment. I’m really looking forward to having it all over and done with so I can really move on and adjust more to the new normal. I have to admit that the more fluid I have added, the harder those suckers get. Holy cripes, I was not prepared for that. And while I probably should have stopped at 75 cc I figured the extra 25 wouldn’t hurt right? Wrong, I was pretty damn sore tonight. I try not to think about the C word, try to not worry about it coming back somewhere else. Sometimes I do pretty well, some days not so much. It’s a scary thing knowing that I got so lucky this time and what if there is a next time? What if the next time there’s not as much luck? I know the dangers of “what if’s”, I was pretty good at not playing that game anymore. I try to go with the flow and have more of the “it is what it is” attitude. But it’s kind of like knowing you were invaded and while I was able to rid myself of this invader this time would I be that lucky if there was a next time? I try to talk to Pep but he’s really at the point of “I’m just glad you’re alive and healthy” point. He doesn’t think about the possibility, which is a good thing for him and for me as well. He’s the positive thinker right now. His positive thinking keeps me grounded. I am getting used to the thought of what I’ll be able to consider normal and I know that the fear will always be there a little. I think the one that scares me the most is the fact that I have my damn ovaries yet, those little suckers are sneaky. Hardly any symptoms if something is wrong with them. Fatigue, abdominal pains, bloating - um how about every day. How is a lady supposed to know when it’s something not normal? I mean I have had those symptoms for the past two decades. That’s the hell of having fibromyalgia,
it includes like every damn symptom for anything that can be wrong with a person...ever. It’s awesome, completely awesome. But again, I try not to be one that looks a gift horse in the mouth. I dodged a major bullet and need to know and remember that I am a lucky one. I have an amazing man friend, an amazing family and friends and kids. All of those far outweigh anything I can complain about. FEBRUARY 17. So I decided to try a real bra, currently I’m still wearing the pull over mastectomy bras I had ordered. While I’m getting more used to what I look like, when I do think back to the real deal, I am so not normal yet. I put that real bra on and holy moly was that depressing. My expanders are not intended to be placed in a bra. They are up high and have no movement at all, like none. I really wouldn’t need to wear a bra at all. I kind of do out of habit at this point but I was hoping that I’d be able to wear a real bra. I kind of wanted to see if I filled it out, if I was getting close to what I had been, but nope. Not even close or at least I can’t tell with the way the bra fits. The expanders are way over to the side towards the armpits more than where they should be. Doc Gottlieb said that he’d have to do some fine tuning, he’d have to get some of the scar tissue out of the way. The left side - cancerous, traitor boob as I refer to it, is kind of a northwest direction and the right side is a little lower and again both are too far to the outside. Not a good look. Part of me wants to show Pep for him to tell me it’s ok. But I don’t think I’d believe him if he said that. He keeps telling me he only cares that I’m alive and healthy but there still needs to be some attraction right? I mean a person can’t be repulsed by the person they’re with. I’m not saying that he wouldn’t love me but there’s the physical aspect of things as well. And I’m a physical person. FEBRUARY 20. So I get a text from my brother, take a look. Yup that’s right, over 17,000 views, how many people know my brother?!?! Funny how he gets that on the first post-surgery selfie. His message to me is asking what I can do to top 20,000? I remind him that I still have one surgery coming up and one never knows about my ovaries yet. MARCH 17. Every Monday for the
past two plus months I’ve spent my mornings with my fave plastic surgeon Doc Gottlieb. He’s been great as well as Betty and the rest of the team. It’s not an easy thing being this exposed and knowing that there’s more to come. The good thing is at least I don’t feel much, at least I don’t feel the needle pokes. The first night after the fill and I’m pretty sore through the night, seems like the muscles don’t like sitting in the same position or maybe gravity isn’t my friend. Either way, I don’t even feel like I should complain because so many others deal with so so much more. But there’s more to this than the physical and I keep waiting for the emotion. I keep waiting to crack but now that the mastectomy is done and I’m physically ok, I seem to be dealing with it better than I thought. I don’t have the issues I thought I would. While I’m not crazy about how I look yet, I showed Pep once since I’ve had the fills. It’s somewhat normal, not pretty but not anything like what I’ve seen on others. Maybe that’s what has kept it in check for me? Maybe seeing what others have had to do makes it easier for me to accept what’s all going on. And during all of this I’ve learned more and more about all of the things that go into the reconstruction. Here’s a couple of the highlights: 1. To have the final stage, they take the expanders out and use what they call spacers to kind of see what size and shape you want. This is all done while you’re out cold, good thing there! 2. The incision on each side is about 2 -3 inches, not too shabby. I mean hell that’s nothing compared to what I’ve been through. 3. I’m going to be pretty sore, at least that’s what I’m understanding at least. Doc will use an electric knife to cut away the scar tissue so that the implant is up higher. Right now the expanders are pretty low and off to the sides, attractive right? 4. The implants are going to be about 500-600 cc’s to be about the same size I was. And since I’m “thinner” on top we’re going with the newer gel implants, less rippling, again so sexy right? 5. This is where it gets good. I might need fat grafting, which means because I’m again thinner on top, the implant may be pretty defined. So they take fat from
elsewhere and use that to soften the edge of the implant, score for me!! Well only if I need it, I asked him if he could try and make that happen? I mean seriously, if I even get to tell him where to take fat from? How is that a bad thing? So now we come to the final two weeks. I know I’ll see Doc Gottlieb the Monday after the surgery. I know I’ll see Seydel about 6 weeks after but then after that, there’s only an annual visit. How completely amazing is that? No meds, no MRI’s, no nada. I definitely hit the jackpot. Not only do I have Pep and have an amazing life with him, but I can actually look forward to and plan for the future. And that future being positive and healthy. MARCH 31. The day is finally here, we’re up early since I again got lucky and was able to get the morning slot for surgery. Just easier that way since then I can get on with the day. I should be done and awake around noon or so I would think. Everything goes without a hitch, IV is in and I’m just waiting for the happiness to take place. While there are times that I feel like this has taken an awful long time, I know in reality that it’s been 4 months. 4 months from diagnosis to being Humpty Dumpty back together again. Many people aren’t even through the first phase of things so I cannot say that I’ve had it rough. Gottlieb was saying that for the most part, he’s been pretty impressed with how well everything has gone for me and how well I’ve responded to things. I think it’s my bubbly personality. I woke up in quite a bit of pain again and it’s early too. A little after 10. Not too shabby. Pep is on his way to get the meds, they figured it would be about an hour before I’m ready. I texted him and said I was up and ready. It was about 10:30, kind of funny that I’m the one waiting for him huh? My throat was pretty sore from the tube and I could tell that it was different and it was the partial instead of the fully inserted one. I hated those, they always make my throat more sore than the normal one. Probably not a good thing that I know the difference. I’m not hurting for the most part but pretty loopy too. I know I was talking gibberish, not quite sure what
I said but Pep said it was pretty funny, kind of concerning. We grab me a vanilla shake and we’re home before noon. Time enough for a nap before the boys get home from school. I’m a little sore and my chest is wrapped pretty good. It feels heavy but considering what’s been done, it’s nothing compared to the big surgery and no drains so I’m a happy camper. Thinking this might be a little worse than I had expected that night but by the next day I was pretty well pain free. All I need to do is go in on Monday to see the final reveal. APRIL 4. The day is finally here for me to see what I look like all put back together. Gottlieb is pretty amazing so I know it’ll be fine. Much better than what I went in looking like right? I know they’re just boobs but its sure hard looking at yourself and hating what you see. I know I should be grateful and I am but it’ll be nice to be back to normal.
SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 19
A Tale Of Strength, Hope And Inspiration BY KARLA SWITA PHOTOS BY LAURA SCHMITT HILLER AND LINDSEY MARIE PHOTOGRAPHY CLOTHING PROVIDED BY ISAAC’S FINE APPAREL Everyone’s journey through breast cancer is unique. No two women will experience the disease exactly the same way. Without an official rulebook on how to feel or what to think about a breast cancer diagnosis, Tara Mondloch, 43, wrote her own story by journaling and sharing it. She offers a detailed account of complex circumstances that brought about self-discovery in her personal blog and “The Cancer Chronicles,” an ongoing feature published in “You Magazine.” It dates back to November 3, 2015 when she discovered four lumps during a monthly self-exam and then goes through the diagnosis and mastectomy process in an open and honest narrative. “I’ve found that many people are impacted in a positive way by reading about it in this format,” said Mondloch, who is a native of Spencer. “We all have ways to deal with what’s thrown at us, and being able to share some humor now and then about a real life instance of a local person is what I was going for.” Humor, or “somewhat inappropriate humor” as she called it, is one of the coping mechanisms Mondloch tends to deploy when emotions are running high. “It’s something my brother and sister and I used to deal with things after our father died at 45 from a heart attack.” The therapeutic power of writing gives Mondloch a greater understanding of the life-changing events she’s facing. It also serves as a conduit of healing for others experiencing cancer. “I’m hoping to give a little insight that what we are feeling is pretty normal.” Mondloch, multimedia advertising manager for Gannett Wisconsin Media, was diagnosed with DCIS, ductal carcinoma in citu, a noninvasive cancer where abnormal cells were found in the breast milk duct. Luckily, it had not spread into the breast tissue and was at stage zero. Her paternal grandmother had breast cancer at the age of 39 and battled additional forms of cancer for the next 40 years. This history along with her own, which included the removal of a breast cyst at age 18, led Mondloch to have a double mastectomy last December. It has been a challenging year but she’s managed to remain focused on work and raising a blended family which includes her two daughters, 19 and 23, and her boyfriend Pep’s two sons, 12 and 15. “Even through the cancer she always had time for people; she took care of her grandpa and her mom,” said Patrick “Pep” Hamm of Spencer. “She’s always
20 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
To my familyWhat this experie nce has taught m e is th – a person can’t co nt inue to say it’ll ne at no one in immune going the extra mile for others and makes sure they’re happy first.” ver happen to me. I was lucky- extrem In her compassionate nature, Mondloch gives credit to Hamm for el y lu ck y – I’ve sa that if I had to ch being a supportive partner. He was right next to her when she got oose a cancer, th id from the beginning en Stage 0 is wha t I’d pick. What cancer has the dreaded phone call from the doctor. “I was sad because of all the ta ug ht m e is th at pe I’m rs on that I though stuff she’s been through already and now this. It was hard to take,” even stronger of person to begin w t I was, and I thought I was a pret a said Hamm, 45. “She was in the car and wanted to cry like a person ith ty entered my mind . But I know that the first thoughts strong wants to when they get that kind of news but my youngest son was when I got the di that agnosis was how to tell my family. with us.” am I going Putting on a brave face and summoning courage is something Pep, you were ther Mondloch is used to doing. “I was in a car accident when I was made those first fe e when I first got the call and your w st 15 and broke my hips and pelvis in five places, so I’m pretty used going to be alone. hours bearable. I wasn’t alone, I w rength as I ha n’t d fo un to having surgeries and doctors around,” she said. Including d my best friend an you were there fo d no m r at m e. ter the breast surgeries, she has currently undergone 15 medical Th an k yo u to my procedures. for making me laug kids and rest of my family for bein And yet, she’s slow to admit that she’s a survivor even with g th h want to be strong even when I didn’t want to. For m ere, enduring years of severe pain and recovery. “I’ve had a lot of aking me and not cave. experience in healing but you kind of get used to it, you know,” My advice is to be are an amazing to your own health advocate- screen she said. ol ings important do wha but you know yourself best. And m The breast cancer scare, although serious in itself, wasn’t t’s right for you. ost overwhelming for someone who has encountered so many I love you more th obstacles. “We caught it early, and yes, the mastectomy was a so proud of how yo an you know and am u handled this big surgery but I’ve had so many others already,” she said. “I journey with me. bounced back pretty quickly and was cleaning the carpets a Love Always week afterwards.” By overcoming hardships and learning valuable lessons Me MONDLOCH CONTINUED ON PAGE 22 >>>
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You have to experience the difference to believe it. <<<MONDLOCH CONTINUED FROM PAGE 21
along the way, she has gained inner strength and motivation. “I know that the more you sit after a surgery the harder it is to get moving and get back in the saddle.” Hamm also helped recovery to go smoothly for his “kind hearted” companion by truly being present for her. “I was there to comfort her and make sure that she had everything she needed. I changed her drainage tubes in the mornings. Whatever she needed,” he said. The presence of loved ones provided that light at the end of the tunnel when Mondloch was coping with persistent pain. “From one thing or another, I guess you could say I’m a survivor,” she said.
A list of basic do’s and don’ts when someone you know has cancer Do:
• Take your cues from the person with cancer. Some people are very private while others will openly talk about their illness. Respect the person’s need to share or their need for privacy. • Let them know you care. • Respect their decisions about how their cancer will be treated, even if you disagree. • Include the person in usual plans and social events. Let them be the one to tell you if the commitment is too much to manage. • Listen without always feeling that you have to respond. Sometimes a caring listener is what the person needs the most. • Expect the person with cancer to have good days and bad days, emotionally and physically. • Keep your relationship as normal and balanced as possible. While greater patience and compassion are called for during times like these, your friend should continue to respect your feelings, as you respect their feelings. • Offer to help in concrete, specific ways.
• Offer advice they don’t ask for, or be judgmental. • Feel you must put up with serious displays of temper or mood swings. You shouldn’t accept disruptive or abusive behavior just because someone is ill. • Take things too personally. It’s normal for the person with cancer to be quieter than usual, to need time alone, and to be angry at times. • Be afraid to talk about the illness. • Always feel you have to talk about cancer. The person with cancer may enjoy conversations that don’t involve the illness. • Be afraid to hug or touch your friend if that was a part of your friendship before the illness. • Be patronizing. (Try not to use a “How sick are you today?” tone when asking how the person is doing.) • Tell the person with cancer, “I can imagine how you must feel,” because you really can’t.
22 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
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A generation ago, drivers seemed to be more inclined to keep their vehicle’s preventive maintenance on schedule. One reason for this may be that vehicles back then were a lot less reliable than they are today. Taking your vehicle in to your shop every year or two for repairs seemed to be a good reminder to keep the oil changed. For example, almost everyone used to take their vehicles in for regular tune-ups. Vehicles had mechanical ignition systems, which meant ignition points, spark plugs and coils had to be replaced and the timing adjusted every few years. As long as the vehicle was in for a tune-up, the vehicle was inspected and you took care of any needed repairs at the same time. Today’s engines have electronic ignition systems and engine control computers. Spark plugs can last for up to 100,000 miles. Vehicle reliability has vastly improved in the last few decades, and surveys report fewer problems with new vehicles than ever before. That also means that our vehicles don’t experience a huge performance drop when they’re ready for some car care. But it doesn’t mean that they don’t need it. Drivers need to rely on calendars and mileage intervals to know when to schedule maintenance. Owner’s manuals contain recommendations on when different types of maintenance should be performed. Also, your vehicle service provider can provide advice about auto maintenance schedules. They know that benefits of staying on top of preventive maintenance are substantial. First, you’ll get better engine performance and fuel economy. Those two things alone return the cost of preventive maintenance: in fuel savings and safety. Also, routine maintenance has been proven to prevent major car repairs later on. Again, the cost savings can be significant. As the old saying goes, “Spend a penny, save a dime.” Modern vehicle engines may be more durable and reliable than their predecessors, but they’re more sophisticated and complex as well. For this reason, preventive maintenance today is even more critical than the old tune-up. Modern engine systems
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Dr. Kathleen Meyer is a plastic surgeon at Marshfield Clinic in Marshfield.
Reconstructing After Cancer BY CAITLIN SHUDA
Breast cancer is a disease that threatens and sometimes takes lives. But even women who win their battles with cancer suffer scars, often literal ones. Some lose portions of or all of their breasts, and that physical change can be traumatic. For women who have been through that battle, plastic surgeons can provide an important service, helping the patient regain self-esteem and a sense of normalcy after a struggle with cancer. Dr. Kathleen Meyer, a plastic surgeon at Marshfield Clinic in Marshfield, has experience working with cancer patients. “With breast cancer, there are often social issues, as well,” Meyer said. “With some women, much of their identity is tied up in their femininity and body type. (And) some women could experience rejection from their spouse because of breast cancer.” The decision to have reconstructive surgery can be hard on the patient both physically and emotionally. A patient goes through physical trauma of treatment and mastectomy and reconstructive surgeries. But even more than the physical effect, the emotions around getting plastic surgery can be intense, as patients deal with their bodies changing and their personal experiences with cancer. Surgeons are trained to identify the best options for each case. Meyer said she begins each consultation by balancing the patient’s risks versus the benefits for each choice available. 24 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
Meyer presents different choices, but also makes sure the patient knows which plan she recommends and why. Patients have options including reconstruction or a less-permanent prosthesis. The choices a patient has also depend on the treatments before a mastectomy and other health concerns. Radiation, for example, makes a reconstructive surgery more difficult, as does diabetes and smoking. Meyer recommends patients learn as much as they can about each option. “I think the women who are best educated are a lot more comfortable with their choice,” Meyer said. “If they understand the pluses and minuses of reconstruction and their own uniqueness of what that means to them, I think they’re the happiest with their reconstruction.” It’s important for the patients to know themselves and what will be best for them in the long run. For example, a prosthesis could work well for someone who is not very active, while someone with a more active lifestyle would do better with reconstruction. Some patients need more time than others to process and think about a decision. In November 2015 when Tara Mondloch was diagnosed with breast cancer, doctors recommended surgery. A month later, she had a double mastectomy. For Mondloch, the choice to move forward with reconstructive surgery was easy after she heard her options. “I made the decision (to have reconstructive surgery after
the mastectomy) right then and there,” Mondloch said. “The reconstruction actually wasn’t hard. I think I had the hardest time when they first told me I needed the mastectomy. After that, it was easy to say I wanted it all done and finished.” Before reconstruction surgery, many patients like Mondloch go through tissue expansion. Right after a mastectomy, a plastic surgeon places expanders under the skin to slowly stretch and expand the skin and muscles. Through the course of several weeks or months, a medical professional will gradually inject a salt-water solution through a valve to expand the area. It is a slow process, allowing time for the body to prepare for the more permanent implant. “There’s quite a change in your physique for that amount of time,” Mondloch said. “The expanders are not a good look, but the end result was good. Mondloch’s advice for anyone going through cancer or other health issues is to find a good support system and learn how to handle the process. “The people around you make a huge difference,” Mondloch said. “Everybody handles it a little bit differently, but making sure that you deal with it in a way that works for you is important.”
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SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 25
LOCAL DAY SPAS WITH ONCOLOGY SERVICES BY KARLA SWITA
day at the spa can bring about calm and relaxation for cancer patients looking to improve sleep and circulation, and reduce anxiety and depression. As a breast cancer survivor of 10 years, Cindi Wanta understands how chemotherapy treatments can cause dry skin and change the body. That’s why she’s made it a priority to offer specialized oncology services, including facials and massage, for cancer patients at her spa, Oasis Day Spa in Mosinee. “People undergoing cancer treatment want to make sure they’re going to someone who has had additional training in cancer care and understands how to work with someone experiencing things like swelling and nausea, and the mental and physical limitations they might have,” said Wanta. “Being a breast cancer survivor, I’ve lived it. I remember going through my chemo treatments and how I lost my hair and how my skin changed,” she said. “Your skin can become very sensitive. Even your scalp is different. I remember touching my scalp, it hurt.” “When seeking spa services for patients living with cancer, it’s important to ask practitioners if they’ve had additional training in oncology massage and if they’re certified,” said Wanta, who is certified in oncology esthetics and offers skin consultations as well as facial and neck massages. She also sells skin care lines formulated especially for 26 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
One of the greatest gifts a person going through treatment could receive is the gift of pain reduction and improved sleep. That’s what massage therapy can do.” - Dennise Pagel
cancer patients who often need gentle, fragrance free products. Cindy Kearns, licensed massage therapist for Oasis, also has specialized training for people living with cancer and can help clients minimize certain side effects of their treatments. “There’s always the risk of lymphedema and massage works to improve circulation in the arms,” she said. Additionally, massage improves circulation when there’s numbness of the hands and feet caused by neuropathy.
Dennise Pagel, licensed massage therapist of Serenity Now Massage and Bodywork of Wausau, said that some clients with cancer have experienced a 25% percent reduction of pain through massage, as well as a notable decrease in nausea and anxiety, and improved mental clarity and quality of sleep. “One of the greatest gifts a person going through treatment could receive is the gift of pain reduction and improved sleep. That’s what massage therapy can do,” she said. CAREGIVERS COUNT TOO Let’s not forget about the invaluable caregivers who can benefit from hands on support. Pagel referred to a study that cited the therapeutic effects of massage therapy and handling touch on caregivers of patients undergoing treatments. “The results showed significant declines in (caregiver) anxiety scores, depression, general fatigue, reduced motivation fatigue and emotional fatigue.” Both Oasis and Serenity Now offer an aromatherapy touch technique that uses essential oils to promote relaxation. Although it may be ideal for a caregiver looking for a day of respite and rejuvenation, Wanta cautions that it could be too pungent for patients who have developed sensitivities to smells. For more information on day spas in central Wisconsin that offer oncology services, call for an appointment at these locations:
OASIS DAY SPA
SERENITY NOW MASSAGE & BODYWORK, LLC,
www.your-oasis.com Cancer care services: Oncology Massage, $55-$70 Ultimate Rejuvenating Facial, $45-$75 Products available for purchase: Bioelements Sensitive CINDI WANTA OWNER OASIS DAY SPA Skin Care Bioelements All Things Pure – natural and organic line Hale & Hush – delicate products for health-challenged skin Essential oils
www.serenitynowbodywork.com Cancer care services: Massage, $45-$60 Reflexology, $1 per minute Therapeutic Honey Massage with hot towels for lymphatic treatment, additional $5 to any massage
LOTUS HEALING ARTS
Cancer care services: Oncology Massage & Reiki Products available for purchase: See website store
DENNISE PAGEL SERENITY NOW
Products available for purchase: Essential oils
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A Shop We Love
That Offers Hope BY STARLA GOLIE
eth Lotz was ready to make a difference when she opened the board certified Pink Ribbon Mastectomy Boutique in 2005. She provides a homey atmosphere while sharing advice as needed.
This quaint little shop offers quite the selection of mastectomy bras, mastectomy swimsuits, camisoles large busted non mastectomy bras, regular breast prosthesis, compression garments, shells for people who have had a mastectomy and lumpectomy, hats, turbans, wigs as well
28 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
as skincare products for people going through chemo and radiation. “We’re the only ones in the area that I know of that do custom compression fittings,” mentioned Lotz. “Those aren’t always as readily covered by insurance but there’s a need so we provide those as well.” There are compression garments available for men as well as women with plenty of options to decide between. Lotz made a point to order only monofilament wigs for Central Wisconsin due to the look and quality. She also has recommendations on when you may want to consider wig shopping if it’s something you’re interested in.
“As soon as you know you’re going to be having chemo. You have two weeks pretty much to the day before your hair starts falling out,” Lotz said. Once someone decides they’d like to see the wig options, they should plan for a fitting with a consult which will take about an hour. Then they’re able to try on as many as they prefer and can match their color if they wish to do so. Shampoo, conditioner and a brush is included when a wig is ordered which is roughly a $25 value. It will typically take about four to seven days for the wig to arrive. “There are aren’t a lot of insurance companies that will cover wigs. There are a few but not a lot.” Lotz continued “the first ten minutes of the visit is when we call the insurance company to make sure they are contracted with them and to make sure to let them know if their deductible is met. We want them to know all the information and both be on the same page.” With a passion for what she does and hope to help make the community a better place, she focuses on events as well as ways to give back. “We do have a not for profit account with Pink Ribbon Fund for people that don’t have any insurance or if they
Do you know
have a super high deductible. We have a large inventory downstairs of gently used products. Prosthesis and bras so if somebody doesn’t’ have insurance we try to fit them down there,” Lotz explained. There is a form to be filled out to ensure the applicant meets the necessary requirements. If you’re interested in learning more please call 715-845-2800 or stop by 1108 S. 17th Avenue in Wausau. The store is open Monday through Friday from 10am-4pm. Evenings and weekends are scheduled by appointment or at your convenience. This venue is contracted with Medicare and Medicaid.
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SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 29
Staying Positive Through The Journey STORY & PHOTOS BY LIZ WELTER
ared Seubert wasn’t sure what would kill him first: colon cancer or chemotherapy. He was 29 when he received the diagnosis in November 2015, and he dreaded the treatment as much as the disease. “A year ago, if someone had told me then what I know now, I wouldn’t have believed it,” he said. By the time he was getting ready for the 10th of 12 chemotherapy rounds last spring, he was ready to call it quits. “No more chemo,” Jared told his wife, Bethany. She stared at him, at a loss for words. Tears flowed down her face. 30 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
The couple had reached the lowest point of their young married lives. Jared’s mental, physical and emotional reserves were exhausted. He was in agony when he walked or tried to write with a pen, and whenever he took a drink, the liquid felt like razor blades slicing his throat. “I just wanted to stop,” he said. “That’s what I told Bethany: ‘I can’t do this anymore.’” The couple have two children, Kali, 2, and Tyla, 6. Hearing the exhaustion in her husband’s voice that spring day was heartbreaking, Bethany said. She is 28. Jared saw his wife distraught and
speechless, and it strengthened his resolve. He trudged forward to his next appointment. “I knew I couldn’t quit. I had to dig deeper and keep fighting, and I had to just get this done,” he said. The cancer treatment was eating away at his digestive tract, leaving his esophagus raw. The pain in his throat increased to the point that he was prescribed IV fluids twice a week to stay hydrated during the final months of chemotherapy. Jared’s mouth was full of sores when he completed the last chemotherapy round June 13. His recovery from the
drugs was painfully slow. By September, the remaining side effect from the chemotherapy was periodic tingling in his fingers or feet. “I feel really good and the chances this will come back are small,” Jared said. The young couple said their families made all the difference. “I never could have done this by myself,” Bethany said. “I really want other people to know that when you go through something like cancer, you can’t do it by yourself. You need to rely on other people and ask for help. Our families were there to pick me up and help us keep going.” Their friends and other community members also sent cards, and many included gift cards for things to do. “Little things like that meant a lot to both of us,” Bethany said. “Cards cheered him up, and I knew people were there for us.” EARLY WARNING SIGNS For almost a year before the cancer diagnosis, Jared was seeing blood in his stool but shrugged it off because he had a medical history of hemorrhoids. When stomach pains started in September 2015, he thought he might have Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis . “But I wasn’t that worried about it,” he said. That was until he nearly passed out while taking a shower Nov. 1. After a trip to the emergency room, followed by a consultation with a gastroenterologist, a colonoscopy and other tests, the colon cancer was discovered. He thought colon cancer was “something people over 65 get,” Jared said. The colonoscopy showed the cancer
I really want other people to know that when you go through something like cancer, you can’t do it by yourself. You need to rely on other people and ask for help.” - Bethany Seubert
was protruding through the wall of the colon, but doctors didn’t know if it had spread to other parts of Jared’s body. Surgery was Dec. 1, 2015, doctors removed 18 inches of diseased colon and nearby lymph nodes. There was no sign that the cancer had spread to other organs. Following a week to heal, 12 treatments of chemotherapy spread over 24 weeks began. A blessing in disguise for Bethany and Jared was that they were living with her parents in Bethany’s childhood home in Marathon when the cancer was found. The couple has lived with Bethany’s parents since they decided to move from Shawano to Marathon to be closer to their jobs in Wausau about two years ago. “Living with my parents has been a
tremendous blessing,” Bethany said. PART OF GOD’S PLAN When the cancer was diagnosed, Bethany’s parents, Jody and Tammy Frieders, leaped into action. Bethany and Jared continued at their jobs fulltime — Bethany is an engineer and Jared is an assistant manager at a manufacturer — with Jared taking time off between chemotherapy rounds. “My mom became the one who got the girls ready for school every morning and my dad made dinner and did the wash,” Bethany said. The attentiveness of her parents to the daily life tasks allowed her to focus on helping her husband to keep going, she said. “It was good they were here when this happened,” Tammy Frieders said. “It was a shock that Jared had cancer, but I think God had a plan and part of his plan was that we could help support them through it.” Jared’s mother and stepfather, Chris and David Krautkramer , also live in Marathon and helped on weekends to give the couple a break while also making meals. “My stepdad, David, was the one I could call and he helped me to stay positive,” Jared said. Maintaining a positive outlook is important, the couple said. “You can’t let it get you down; you need to stay on top of it,” Jared said. In retrospect, Jared said he should have had a checkup when the symptoms expanded to stomach pain. “But, you know, you think you can do anything, like ‘I’m too young for cancer.’” Jared said. “But no one is too young.” SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 31
you shopping diva
Gotta Have Items
Check them out and make them yours too!
BY STARLA GOLIE
REHYDRATE YOUR LIPS
TOASTY WARM TOES
1. CLEANSE YOURSELF and leave the harsh chemicals out of it! Check out the varieties of Kiss My Face shower gel offered. They are all paraben free, cruelty-free and even the packaging is ethically sourced in North America. FIND IT: $11.19, Stevens Point Co-op, Stevens Point. 2. ADD THE PERFECT TOUCH of moisture with Good Earth lip butter. Pick your favorite flavor and bring it home. FIND IT: $3.00, Herbal Awakenings, Wausau. 3. WHILE THE TEMPERATURES are frigid outdoors, stay warm with Solmate Socks. They are made from recycled cotton yarn and locally made. Large selection of colors and designs to choose from. FIND IT: Starting at $16, Janke Book Store, Wausau. 32 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
WARM IT UP
4. STAY COZY AND WARM with a hat or scarf with cooler temperatures on the way. Multiple options to decide between. FIND IT: Starting at $10, Mad Hatter Crochet Creations, Marshfield. 5. INDULGE YOURSELF IN STORIES of success for inspirations as well as an adventure in your mind’s eye. Incredible selection to choose from depending on your taste. FIND IT: Starting at $1.99, Book World, Wisconsin Rapids. 6. THERE ARE PLENTY OF WIGS to choose from regardless if you’re on the hunt for brunette, red, blonde or something else. FIND IT: Starting at $250, Pink Ribbon Mastectomy, Wausau.
Check out the Shopping Diva’s Top 5 Gotta Have Items in the Wausau Daily Herald SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 33
Isaac Yeboah chose to become a doctor in part because he comes from a family of engineers. Now he’s helping to engineer historic gains in the fight against cancer.
DOCTOR ON THE CUTTING EDGE OF CANCER FIGHT STORY & PHOTO BY KEITH UHLIG Isaac Yeboah was a little boy, living with his family about an hour outside of Takoradi, one of the largest cities in Ghana, when he learned about his cousin’s illness. “She fell sick and nobody was able to help her,” the 43-year-old oncologist/hematologist said. “I was only 8 or 9, but I remember thinking, ‘If only I was in a position to help her.’ That drew my attention to medicine.” His cousin would die from the illness, but the experience set him on a path in life that has led him to Marshfield Clinic, treating people with cancer. At the same time, he 34 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
studies new ways to fight the disease through the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation . His work can be incredibly satisfying and immensely heartbreaking at the same time. But no matter the circumstances of his individual days, overall he’s fulfilling the goal the 8-year-old boy back in West Africa. He’s helping people in the most profound of ways at times when they are most vulnerable. “Different aspects of medicine come into play,” Yeboah said. “Not just the physical healing and treatment, but also the psychological aspects. You must find a way to get people’s
spirits up. This jelled with me from the beginning.” Growing up, Yeboah’s family supported his quest to become a doctor. His mother was a nurse who stayed at home to care for Yeboah and his three older siblings. His father was an engineer, along with many uncles and other relatives. There are so many engineers in his family, Yeboah jokes, he had to find something different. Yeboah’s access to good schools in the rural area was limited. So he went to live with family friends in Takoradi where he could attend larger schools with more opportunities. As he progressed through elementary and secondary school, then college, Yeboah maintained his focus on medicine. “I just kind of zoomed in on it,” Yeboah said. “I think getting that idea early gave me a head start and meant I was focused through school.” He didn’t know what kind of doctor he would be. But as he attended attended college and medical school in Ghana, he was able to experience different parts of medicine. Work in a cancer ward, where as medical student he was able to administer treatments to patients, convinced him to specialize in oncology and hematology. “I would see patients who were literally dying,” Yeboah said. “And they would get treatment, and would get some energy. You could see the joy, the excitement of having another day. I fell in love with that.” He still works to make every day matter for his patients, even for those in advanced stages of the disease. Making the difference, helping them get through that time. “The thing with working with cancer patients, you really build a bond with them,” Yeboah said. “And by my nature, I like that. Everything you do can make a difference.” Maybe the key part of building a relationship with a cancer patient defining “what really matters to them,” Yeboah said. “For some the most important thing may be to be able to make it to their daughter’s wedding in seven months, or to see their grandchild being born, or to have their nagging pain controlled.” Sometimes the disease may be incurable, he said, but “being able to address what really mattes to them, besides managing the underlying disease, can make a whole world of difference, and that’s what I seek to do with every patient I see.” Yeboah is especially excited to be an oncologist now. In the last 20 or so years, the treatments for cancer have become more effective and have fewer side effects for patients. There was a time when all forms of cancer were treated similarly. But now cancer treatment is evolving to become more and more individualized. The concept is called “precision medicine”, and it uses
people’s genetic profiles to direct specific treatment options. Yeboah began studying precision medicine and genetics while studying at Rutgers University and completing a medical residency at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, where he was also chief resident. Marshfield Clinic gave Yeboah the chance to continue his research into genetic sequencing and practice at the same time. “It’s one of the great things about Marshfield,” he said. Other treatment options, such as immunotherapy, which helps the body’s own immune system to battle the cancer, also present great hope in the cancer-fighting field. “The good thing about immunotherapy is that it doesn’t have the side effects of tradition chemotherapy. For most people, they pale in comparison,” he said. Those lighter side effects allow people live fuller lives while still receiving treatments for the disease. It means they have more energy to continue working, for example, he said, or spend more time with family. That’s the biggest lesson battling cancer has taught him. Days and hours matter, Yeboah said. “And you recognize how important we all are as human beings.” Editor’s note: Dr. Isaac Yeboah treated the author’s mother while she battled advanced stages of melanoma through the first half of 2016.
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www.JennySellsWausau.com SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 35
FINDING THE PATH TO RECOVERY
Patients can be overwhelmed by the number of choices to make about their treatment. BY CHRIS MUELLER
im Hodgson wasn’t sure how to tell her family.
Hodgson, a 54-year-old Plover resident, was diagnosed with breast cancer more than four years ago, but the memory of the moment she found out is still clear in her mind. “I don’t even have the words really,” she said. “It just takes your breath away.” Hodgson was suddenly confronted with a series of important decisions to make about her treatment, including the roles of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Those decisions couldn’t be made, though, before she told her family about her diagnosis. But that wasn’t easy. 36 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
“I had to have all the support I could get just to tell people,” she said. Hodgson told her family, including her three children, but was still faced with all of the choices she need to make about her treatment. The shock of her diagnosis hadn’t worn off, but she felt the need to move forward. The amount of information cancer patients need to consider shortly after being diagnosed can be immense, but doctors still try to present their options with as much care and consideration as possible, according to Doug Reding, vice president of oncology services for Ascension Wisconsin. “It’s helpful to let them go home for
a day or two to process the information and talk about it with family,” Reding said. Hodgson was overwhelmed by the amount of information to consider when making the decision, so she relied on discussions with her family and her surgeon. There were still times when all of the information became too much to handle. “At one point, I closed everything up and put it all aside,” she said. The type of cancer and the seriousness of the progression helps doctors determine what treatments are appropriate, but there’s still typically more than one way to treat any type of
cancer, Reding said. That often leaves patients with choices to make. “It’s helpful to let them go home for a day or two to process the information and talk about it with family,” he said. Hodgson chose to have her tumor taken out without having her entire breast surgically removed. The surgery happened about a week after she got her diagnosis. That was followed by round after round of chemotherapy and radiation. Hodgson, who works at St. Bronislava Parish in Plover, didn’t have to travel far to get her treatment — she was able to stay entirely in the Stevens Point and Plover area. “It was nice to be able to be here, where I could go to work the next day,” she said. That wasn’t always the case for cancer patients in this part of Wisconsin, Reding said. There was a time when patients, especially those living in smaller communities, would have to travel to just a handful of places in the state for treatment.
Patients ”really have a great opportunity in the sense that you have three good health systems that provide state-of-the-art care in multiple locations,” he said. Hodgson has been cancer-free for a
few years now. Looking back, Hodgson wouldn’t change anything about the path she took through treatment, including her choice to stay local. “I was very comfortable staying here,” she said. “I got incredible care.”
Nikky Christian, a radiation therapist, sets up the linear accelerator used to give cancer patients radiation treatments at Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital in Stevens Point.
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SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 37
Memory Lives On BY ARIELLE HINES
Robert Dinkel said his wife, Kristan JanseDinkel was planning to retire when the family discovered she had terminal cancer. Kristan, who went by Kris, of Wausau, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 when she was 47. She was cancer-free for several years, but in February 2015 she learned the cancer had spread to her brain and there was no treatment. She died on March 27, 2015, leaving behind her husband of 26 years and two college-age sons. She was 54. Robert, who goes by Bob, said the family never could have imagined losing Kris so quickly, but they are learning to live life without her. Kris told her story to You Magazine about her struggle with breast cancer in 2012. Kris worked almost 30 years for the Wisconsin Technical College system, first as the student activities director for Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids and then the director of testing at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau. Kris’s mom, Mary Ann Janse, who was featured in the same article, has also battled breast cancer. “I thought it would get to me before Kris,” Mary Ann said. “She was just a spark, she always was.” Her family described Kris as upbeat, funny, hardworking, adventurous and caring. She told YOU Magazine how she never let the disease bring her down. “You just have to accept it and make the best of a bad situation. I tell others to stay busy as much as you can and focus on other things. If you dwell on 38 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
your situation, you can get really depressed,” Kris told YOU Magazine in 2012. Karen Buresh, Kris’s younger sister, said she didn’t have much in common with her sister growing up because Kris was seven years older than she. But the two got closer when they became mothers. Karen said she often called Kris for advice on how she should handle her son’s milestone life events, like how to teach him to shave. “She experienced a lot in her 54 years of life,” Karen said. “She always did what she wanted to do.” Michael Janse, Kris’s father, said that even in her final days of life, she was still talking to her friends and kept her positive outlook on life. He will always remember when Kris gave the money she had left over from a vacation to a person who was financially struggling. “She was always more concerned about other people than herself,” Michael said. Karen said the family keeps Kris’s memory alive by spending time with her family, which is what Kris would have wanted. She said she tries to be a mother figure to Kris’s boys. “It’s a big loss to lose a sister,” Karen said. “I think about sometimes all the fun we would of had.” Bob has established a scholarship in Kris’s memory. He encourages any graduating high school senior at Marathon High School who plans on pursuing secondary education to apply for the scholarship. “She’s gone, but her memory lives on. I am happy to have the 30 years I had with her. I wouldn’t change a thing,” Bob said.
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Essential oils and crystals available for massage and reiki sessions, should the client choose. Wellness classes will begin in September and more info can be found on our website. “Helping you heal mind, body, and soul.”
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SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 39
Our picks of places that offer support. BY STARLA GOLIE
LIVESTRONG AT THE Y.
This twelve week small group program is free and offers two 75 minute classes each week as well as free child care. It’s designed for adult cancer survivors interested in regaining health and conditioning due to fighting the disease and/or treatments. A referral and medical clearance is needed from your oncologist. For more information please contact 715-841-1854 (Wausau/Weston) or 715-342-2980 (Stevens Point).
PROSTATE CANCER EDUCATION AND SUPPORT GROUP.
This group meets the first Thursday of each month from 5pm-7pm and is free of charge. It helps men and their families cope as well as understand the treatment options available. The discussions also touch on quality of life issues after treatment. The two locations for this group are the Marshfield Clinic Marshfield Center (Laird Center, room 0050 with the alternative location being the conference room near Urgent Care) and the Marshfield Clinic Weston Center (conference room 1B which is across from the oncology department). For more information contact Richard Nesbitt at 715-389-4789 or email@example.com.
REACH TO RECOVERY SUPPORT PROGRAM.
This program offers support and provides information to anyone facing breast cancer. There are women as well as male breast cancer survivors as trained volunteers for this state wide program. Please contact 800227-2345 for more information if you’re receiving care at Marshfield Clinic Cancer Care at Sacred Heart Hospital, Chippewa Center, Park Falls Center, Rice Lake Center, Ladysmith Center Marshfield Center, Marshfield Clinic at James Beck Cancer Center, Marshfield Clinic Cancer Care at Saint Michael’s Hospital, Minocqua Center, Wausau Center or Weston Center.
WOMEN LIVING WITH HOPE SUPPORT GROUP.
The focus of this event is to provide informational, emotional and practical support to women affected by breast cancer. It will be held on the third Monday of each month from 6:30pm-8pm at the Weston Regional Medical Center in the St. Francis conference room (3501 Cranberry Blvd., Weston). In Marshfield, it will be held from 6pm-7:30pm on the third Monday of each month at Hope Lodge. For questions, call 715-393-1406 (Wausau/Weston) or 715-387-5954 (Marshfield).
It’s important for caregivers to take time for themselves as well. This group meets bi-monthly at the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Central Wisconsin (1000 Lakeview Dr.) Its focus is on providing education and information for caregivers by personal circumstances or professional choice. During the meetings, the needs of the caregivers are identified and tools are developed to assist. Please call 715-261-6070 for more details regarding meeting dates and times.
40 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
CANCER SURVIVORSHIP PROGRAM.
Formerly known as WINGS (We Inspire, Nurture and Give Support) is here to offer assistance to people who have completed their treatment programs as well as to the family, friends and caregivers impacted by a cancer diagnosis. It also provides access to support groups either on site or by referrals to local or web based programs. Discussions touch on cancer prevention, early detection, genetics, disease treatment, psychosocial and symptom management. For meeting dates and times please call 715-389-3033, 715-221-7687 or 715-424-8787.
Stop by to discuss coping skills, alternative medicine, nutrition, updates in current therapy, spirituality, legal issues and more while offering encouragement to others. This group meets the first Tuesday of each month from 1-2:30pm and the third Monday from 6-7:30pm. On Tuesdays, it is held in conference room 1 at Marshfield Clinic in Stevens Point (4100 State Hwy. 66). Mondays, it will be in the cancer center waiting room at St. Michael’s Hospital (900 Illinois Avenue). Contact Ruth Glodowski at 715-343-3030 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
HEALING GRIEF CIRCLE.
LIVING WITH CANCER SUPPORT GROUP.
Losing someone close to you is traumatic. Families and individuals who have experienced the death of a loved one are invited to be a part of this group. It offers support, strength and an outlet to share memories as well as feelings. Learn how to understand the patterns of grief and gain renewed enthusiasm for living. The Wisconsin Rapids group meets from 6pm-7:30pm at Riverview Hospital (410 Dewey St.) on the first Tuesday of every month. In Marshfield, it meets from 1pm-2:30pm on the second Tuesday of each month at the Ministry Home Care Hospice Office (303 W. Upham St.) Call 715-387-7052 or 715-387-1713 with any questions.
AMERICAN BRAIN TUMOR ASSOCIATION SUPPORT GROUP.
While some of the closest brain tumor support groups are in Appleton and Eau Claire, the online group offers hope regardless of your location. It’s a private setting that tries to assist as a face to face group does where patients, families and caregivers can come for inspiration as well as support. Visit www.inspire.com/groups/american-braintumor-association/ or call the American Brain Tumor Association at 800-886-2282 (ABTA) to learn more.
FAMILY CAREGIVERS SUPPORT GROUP.
The focus of this event is to offer support for those who are caregivers for family members. This group meets at the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Portage County (1519 Water St.) on the last Wednesday of each month from 4pm-6:30pm. An evening meal and respite care with advance notice will be provided. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged by calling 715-346-1401.
WOMEN’S CANCER SUPPORT GROUP. Find the support you’ve been searching for at these free meetings for women battling or surviving any type of cancer. There is no registration needed and this group will meet the second Monday of each month except January, June, July, August and December. It is held at Aspirus Riverview Hospital (410 Dewey St.) in the lower level conference center. For more details, please call 715-421-7442.
MEN’S CANCER SUPPORT GROUP.
This is a great outlet for men battling or surviving any type of cancer. There is no registration needed for the free meetings that will be held on the second Tuesday of each month except January, June, July, August and December. It is held at Aspirus Riverview Hospital (410 Dewey St.) in the lower level conference center. Please call 715-421-7442 for additional information.
SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 41
Tattoos Offer Fresh Start From Cancer New Life Ink owner helps women by covering breast cancer surgery scars for calendar. BY NATHAN VINE
The image depicts a hummingbird, with a white breast and green along its back, feeding from a group of bright yellow flowers. Around its neck is a pink ribbon, symbolic of breast cancer awareness, and above it and the phrase “He walks with me.” Candy Severson has the tattoo on her chest. It’s a symbol of her own fight with breast cancer. Along with five other women , Severson worked with Jeff Poehls, owner of New Life Ink in Schofield , to create images to cover their surgical scars which appeared in the Rockin’ Breast Cancer calendar for 2016. Sales of the calendar raised money for Angel Fund, which serves serves Saint Michael’s Hospital and Ministry Medical Group patients by
providing prevention, detection and screening services for breast cancer. Beyond the ability to cover up the physical scars left behind after breast cancer surgery, the tattoos also offered the women involved the opportunity to reclaim self-confidence lost in their fights. Tanya Volm , Poehls’ fiancee who helps with marketing for the shop, heard how the women’s spirits improved after they received their tattoos. “On of the women who had been married to her husband for many years said she wasn’t comfortable without clothes, and after this she walked around her house without her shirt on. That’s huge,” Volm said. Serena Sblendorio , owner of Splendid Photography by Serena,
volunteered to do the photography for the calendar, spending about 40 hours shooting and editing photos with the women . Sblendorio said it was a great opportunity to connect with the women and their stories, and to see them able to battle back from breast cancer. “It was about making them feel really comfortable. They are going to bare themselves, and it’s important to be at ease,” Sblendorio said. “It was phenomenal to hear their stories, how confident they had become and how they viewed themselves after doing this.” Sblendorio has volunteered her time for a number of projects like the calendar such as the Stevens Point firefighters calendar which raised funds
The finished tattoo for Candy Severson covering her breast cancer scar. Women who received similar tattoos from Jeff Poehls of New Life Ink were featured in a fundraising calendar. (Photo courtesy of New Life Ink)
42 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
Candy Severson receives a tattoo from Jeff Poehls of New Life Ink covering her breast cancer scar. Severson and other women appeared in a calendar which raised money for Angel Fund. (Photo courtesy of New Life Ink)
for various causes like the State Firefighter Memorial, and is the volunteer photographer for the Women’s Fund of Portage County, an endowment supporting local women and children. Poehls has also sought out ways to give back through his business, which opened in Marshfield in 2011 before moving in 2014 . New Life Ink has helped with Toys for Tots, Children’s Miracle Network, and The Neighbors’ Place in Wausau . Poehls said members of his own family, friends and clients have suffered from breast cancer, making this project extra special. “It’s not fair to them to have to deal with something like this. They didn’t choose it, and their families don’t want it for them,” Poehls said. Poehls said the tattoos, which typically could cost $1,000 or more , were done in one sitting for the women, who ranged in age from their 20s to 60s, with the longest running about 11 hours. “For a tattoo like that we usually schedule a few sittings,” Poehls said. “The chest cavity is a sensitive area to tattoo, and they had scarring from surgery. There was pain, but they never gave up.” Poehls and Volm hoping to continue that experience for people, including men, who have dealt with cancer. They aren’t sure there will be another calendar, but are hoping to have a similar fundraising event and connect with people looking for a fresh start from their illness. “It could be for that, or just people who are interested in getting a tattoo but don’t want to do it publicly,” Poehls said. For more information, please call 715-207-9410.
Jeff Poehls of New Life Ink offered his services to women looking to cover their breast cancer surgery scars. (Photo courtesy of Pollard Exposure Photography) SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 43
Marshfield Mom Knows Cancers Impact BY MITCHELL A. SKURZEWSKI
It didn’t seem possible to Becky Dieringer and her family. Her oldest son Ryan , now 17, had been diagnosed with cancer. Ryan had been healthy, athletic and doing what he loved. Now he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma . “People ask me all the time what’s it like dealing with cancer,” Becky Dieringer said. “Basically it’s like your life is imploding.” Today, Ryan Dieringer is back on the soccer field with Columbus Catholic High School and the scans show no evidence of the disease in his body. But, the past yearplus it took to get to this point shook Becky and the entire Dieringer family. A planned weekend to watch WIAA State Boys Basketball Tournament in March 2015 turned into a complete lifestyle change for the Dieringers. Ryan was down in Madison with his dad Derek and his younger brother Evan . Derek took his son to urgent care, but medical staff couldn’t find the source of Ryan’s sudden pain, and by that Friday afternoon, Ryan was in the emergency room. A battery of tests couldn’t find the problem. Ryan sent a text to his mother, Becky, and told her to bring Advil. She said she knew it had to be bad because Ryan didn’t take pain medication.
People ask me all the time what’s it like dealing with cancer. Basically it’s like your life is imploding.” Becky Dieringer
By Saturday morning, Ryan was in intense pain and walking with a significant limp. Becky made an appointment with Dr. Laurel Rudolph of Marshfield Clinic the following Tuesday. After an MRI, doctors found a tumor on Ryan’s sacrum, a triangle-shaped bone at the bottom of the spine. The Dieringers then traveled from their Hewitt home to Madison for the biopsy. The doctors there were relatively convinced it was a cyst, and they removed it and packed it with bone chips, performing a bone graft. 44 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
On April 23, Ryan received a diagnosis of Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that is identified about 200 times a year and mostly affects children and adolescents. It was the news the Dieringers had feared, but Ryan and the entire family were determined and had immense support from the community. The Dieringer family created a Facebook page named RPDstrong to keep everyone up to date on Ryan’s condition. Rudolph started a T-shirt campaign, sending letters to local high schools and colleges asking them to send a T-shirt. Ryan received a number of shirts from all over the world including an autographed basketball from Wisconsin Badgers basketball coach Bo Ryan and an autographed hat from former Wisconsin star and current Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. Becky said the page was great but also that the family took care not to reveal there everything that was part of Ryan’s struggle. “We wanted RPDstrong to be a positive page, not a bare-all to show all Ryan was going through,” she said. “There was no pictures of him getting shots or with tubes coming out of him.” The page was already a big deal for Ryan who is “a pretty private kid.” Ryan also under his chemo was at risk for other cancers, heart issues or possibly fertility issues.
“Ryan and I grew incredibly close, almost too close, because he probably had to tell me things or worry about things he never wanted to at 16,” Becky said. The Dieringers’ RPDstrong page was one of many child cancer pages that the family followed and the pages are designed for community involvement and letting kids know they aren’t fighting alone. Becky said there were some great cases of kids beating cancer, but there were also the tragic ones that don’t beat the wicked disease. Derek told her she shouldn’t pay attention to those.
Watching Ryan suffer from agonizing chemo, basically living at the Proton Center near Chicago and having a year of high school largely taken away only made Becky’s mind race and think of the negatives at times. It was also difficult trying to keep Evan shielded from the situation and letting him live a “normal” life. “That was our goal from the beginning of it all,” Becky said, “to keep it as normal as possible for both of them.” So when Ryan was having chemotherapy, Evan was having a sleepover or going camping to keep his mind free. Becky and Derek would spend as much time together with Ryan as possible, but Evan also participated in sports and needed support. But Ryan was never bitter, and he and Evan also grew closer as Ryan confided in Evan and could just be himself and be a teenager again at home with Evan. “Cancer affected Ryan a ton obviously, but Evan also had to miss things and really grow up and mature fast,” Becky said. “He was great during the whole thing. This fight for Ryan really brought all of us closer.” After a 10-month-long battle, however, doctors told Ryan he was N.E.D. — meaning No Evidence of Disease — in February. It was an incredibly uplifting emotional turn for Ryan and the entire family.
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“To hear them say it, that I was N.E.D., was like a dream come true,” Ryan said in a March interview. “Just relief, like a weight off my shoulders.”
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But the worry isn’t completely gone. Ryan has had two scares, including one where he felt a sharp pain when running on a treadmill. But his scans at the 3- and 6-month points have been clear. He is back playing soccer, one of the many sports he loves. “We are one of the lucky ones, but you still worry a lot,” Becky said. “There is always a small fear of might it come back. So there is a very small piece even at all the great things Ryan has accomplished, there isn’t that 100 percent joy, if that makes sense.” But right now, Becky Dieringer and her entire family are just happy to not be splitting time anymore. Happy to eat dinner together, even at quirky times with sports. Happy to be together and having cancer in the rearview mirror. “Now we try to just live life and do everything we do to the fullest and have as much fun as possible,” Becky said.
SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 45
Remembering A Mother BY LAURA SCHULTE When asked to share a story about his mother, Brandon Normand smiled and laughed. The 21 -year-old Weston resident recounted a day of playing out in the back yard when he was 8 years old. “I was playing baseball in the back yard,” he said with a smile. “I was just throwing it up and hitting it myself and she walked up behind me and I didn’t realize it. And I followed through on my swing and caught her right in the forehead. I cut her open, she had to get 20-something stitches. She wasn’t even mad. I felt awful and she just completely reassured me that ‘Hey its not your fault.’” Normand’s mother, Carolyn , passed away at 54 in February 2015 after an eight-month battle with brain cancer. “It feels like the worst time of your life,” Normand said. “But the sun will rise the next day. And you just keep moving 46 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
forward and continue to live in the moment but don’t forget all the quality times you’ve had with your loved ones.” In the time since his mother’s passing, Normand has completed his associate’s degree at the University of Wisconsin Marathon County and enrolled in the electromechanical technology program at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau . Although Normand never imagined his mom wouldn’t be there for his college graduation day, he said he’s continuing with school because it’s what his mom would have wanted for him. “I knew my mom was always super supportive of my schooling and always wanted me to do my best,” he said. “So I guess I continue to strive for that.” His mom’s passing has been hard, but Normand said he continues to live in the present. He still thinks about his mom
It feels like the worst time of your life. But the sun will rise the next day. And you just keep moving forward and continue to live in the moment but don’t forget all the quality times you’ve had with your loved ones.”
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every day, though. And he remembers her by doing some of the activities she once enjoyed. Normand and his father have also tended to the gardens that she loved. “She really enjoyed her flower garden, her vegetable garden,” Normand said. “I weeded the flower garden this year. I set out all her decorations the past two years. We kind of shrunk her vegetable garden to patio planters.” Normand has tried to move back to an everyday routine. He goes to classes, works on race cars with his buddies and during the summers, works as a janitor at the YMCA Camp Sturtevant. Out of everything though, working on race cars for the Brickner team has brought the most comfort to the grieving student. “It took my mind off things,” he said. “And we won a championship, actually two , the following year and I guess that was a great way to kind of ... it was a big stress relief, knowing that our hard work paid off.” Normand has also tried his hand at cooking, another pastime his mom enjoyed. “She loved to cook, so we found one of her recipe books and cook out of that every once in a while. I know one of my favorite things that she cooked was chocolate fudge around the holidays,” he said. “I think she really did enjoy that. We attempted (to make the fudge). “It was not as good as hers, but it was close.”
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SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 47
Moving Forward BY SARI LESK
When her youngest sister died of breast cancer in 1996, Sharon Myszka was mad at God. Myszka herself was a breast cancer survivor, beating the disease the first time just three years prior — she did the same 21 years later in 2014. She cared for her sister as she battled, and Myszka said she prayed and made promises to God to save her sister’s life. “It didn’t make sense,” Myszka said. “I was like, ‘God, what are you thinking?’” Her sister left behind a husband and two children. Myszka said she turned to 48 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
Scripture to help her move forward through her pain. She calls John 3:16 her life insurance policy; it helped her find comfort during her own battles against breast cancer, and it helped her find comfort after her sister’s death. “I thought, ‘Wow, she’s not in any more pain,’” Myszka said. “She’s in a place where she never has to worry about a hangnail. She never has to worry about anything.” Myszka said her faith helped her through the challenges of cancer — her father died of pancreatic cancer, and three of his four daughters battled breast cancer. Everyone moves forward in different ways after a loss to the deadly disease, said Samantha Gruetzmacher, an oncology social worker at Marshfield Clinic. Every situation is different, she said, but she encourages everyone to seek support from a therapist, a relative or a close friend. Gruetzmacher said people who lose loved ones to cancer face a challenge in trying to move forward: They not only have their grief to deal with, but also they have to redefine their identities. Oftentimes, she said, a person’s identity is reflected by they people around them. After someone dies, a new identity without that person’s physical presence is necessary. “After they lose that battle and they pass away, that individual, their whole routine changes,” she said. “Their whole life is in upheaval.” Myszka said she busied herself after her sister’s death, helping care for her niece and nephew while raising her own four children. Twenty years later, she still finds it hard to cope with the loss some days, such as when her sister’s first grandchild was born. Gruetzmacher said people have to find ways to fill time they previously spent taking a patient to medical appoints and helping them with day-to-day activities. They also have to decide what to do with their loved one’s belongings. “When you get rid of things, that really needs to be determined by you are ready to do it,” Gruetzmacher said. “You might feel like they are the only things you have left of that individual.” She said some people take comfort in donating their the possessions so they see everything go to a good use. Gruetzmacher said she encourages friends to give people an opening to grieve. People may not want to bring up a husband’s death if his wife isn’t talking about, she said. “(She’s) sitting there thinking, ‘I’m always thinking about it and want people to acknowledge it,’” she said. “After the funeral, the rest of the world feels like they’ve moved on. ... Don’t be afraid to talk about it and just say, ‘How are you doing?’” For Myzska, her family’s battles and losses to cancer taught her to value people over possessions, she said. She didn’t save belongings, opting instead to value people and experiences over objects. “I used to want my house just so clean,and I’d want that lawn clipped,” she said. “It’s better to take that phone call from a friend or write that letter or spend that time with your children.”
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you in your words
The In Your Words submissions have not been edited and have been published exactly as they were received.
50 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
MELISSA BAKER, LMT at Massage by Melissa in Wausau (www.MassagebyMelissaLLC.com) Age: 35 City of residence: Kronenwetter In late winter of 2008 my sister, Trisha, was diagnosed with leukemia. She was only 34 at the time, and didn’t fit the normal profile of someone with acute myelogenous leukemia. Life came to a halt as our entire family rearranged our schedules to ensure at least one of us was at the hospital with her at all times, per her request. She was in and out of the hospital for chemo, sometimes spending weeks at a time at Aspirus, over the course of approximately 6 months. Her diagnosis was devastating to all of us, but we vowed to do whatever was necessary to get her through it. Spending hours lying in a hospital bed can get physically uncomfortable, and the constant necessary poking and prodding by the medical staff can take its toll. As a licensed massage therapist I wanted to help Trisha feel better, even if just temporarily, while going through the hell that is cancer. I’d been a massage therapist for over two years at the time but didn’t know a lot about massage and cancer. I consulted other massage therapists and scoured the internet as well as talking to her oncologist. What I gathered was that based on her low blood counts I needed to use light pressure. The massages she received in the hospital while undergoing chemo, and at home while she was in pain from blood cell regeneration, were the only thing that helped her feel human during this time according to Trisha. Several years down the road I began teaching massage therapy at Globe University. In 2014 I had the opportunity to take oncology massage continuing education. I learned that the light pressure I had used on Trisha was not nearly light enough and I could have literally killed her by causing severe bruising. Death by massage. I am like a broken record now when I talk to my students about massage and cancer. Clients who currently have cancer should seek out licensed massage therapists who have advanced oncology massage education. Even after cancer, survivors should seek out LMTs who have this training. Lymph
node removal, radiation, lymphedema, etc. all require long-term alterations to pressure and positioning when it comes to massage therapy. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in remission for decades and have had hundreds of massages. That hundred-and-first massage could be the one that breaks a bone weakened by radiation, or sets off permanent lymphedema which can be painful and disfiguring. Massage by someone with proper training can be an incredibly soothing and therapeutic experience. Studies have shown it can help with pain, depression, nausea, chemo-induced neuropathy, scar tissue, and so much more. My sister has been in remission over eight years now. Her diagnosis led me on my journey to find my passion in oncology massage. I wish that journey hadn’t revolved around a family member having cancer, but I am excited about safely helping others with cancer or a cancer history to feel “human” again.
General Manager, Wisconsin Media Age: 31 years old at the time (19 years ago) City of residence: Wausau, WI Family: Currently married to Gary Bolle, who has been the most amazing step-father to my two children. My first spouse, Jeff Guile, who fought the fight until his last breath and passed away from Pancreatic Cancer after a 3 month battle at the age of 33. I was his wife of 8 years. Our son Brandon was 7 at the time and our daughter Brittney was 4. When was your family member/friend diagnosed? 1997, at the age of 33 – less than 3 months from diagnosis to death from pancreatic cancer. What type of cancer was your family member/friend diagnosed with? Pancreatic Cancer Share your initial thoughts upon your family member/friend’s diagnosis. My husband was dealing with a backache. Due to his age (33), the Doctor did not think of the possibility of cancer and told him he must have fallen and hurt his back. 1 week later, he started feeling sick and couldn’t concentrate on simple things. He was a Product Engineer for a cookware/ bakeware manufacturer. He called while
at work to ask me to help him figure out a math problem he was struggling with for hours. It was a basic multiplication problem. I knew there was something wrong so I said we should take the rest of the day off. Pick up the kids from daycare, get an ice cream cone and go home. On the way, I called the Doctor and requested a referral to seek an appointment with Marshfield Clinic. We were able to get in for an appointment the next day. They ran a series of tests. The lab tests detected a low white blood cell count and the biopsy tested malignant. By this time, he was filled with nodules which apparently was the cancer/tumors growing through his skin. In a matter of 24 hours, our lives changed forever. My husband was fighting cancer—WE were fighting cancer. We were told to go home, pack an overnight bag and go immediately to the hospital. On the way to the hospital, we met with a lawyer to secure a will as he wanted to ensure he had that taken care of. He never really made it back home. He stayed in the hospital for about 2 months and was treated with 4 different doses of the strongest Chemo to help slow down the cancer. By this time, his scans showed cancer throughout his entire body and around every organ. The doctor had a tear in his eye when he told me that for the first time, he didn’t think he could help a patient, that being my husband. He said he never gives up as a doctor, but he couldn’t look me in the eye and tell me something he couldn’t do…which was heal my husband. What were the challenges of supporting your family member/friend through treatment? As his wife, he wanted me to make decisions for him and be his voice. This also included keeping family away when he wasn’t up for visitors or telling his family members ‘no’ to things they thought differently about. He didn’t want to go through experimental treatments or be flown to Madison to try a new cancer treatment drug or start taking different vitamins or eating organic foods or any random new idea to cure himself. He just wanted to be trusted in his wants, needs, ideas, requests and have everyone understand he was still alive to make those decisions for himself. This made it challenging for family who loved him dearly as IN YOUR WORDS CONTINUED ON PAGE 52 >>> SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 51
you in your words <<< IN YOUR WORDS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 51
At that moment, you don’t how you will deal with life without them. I was then surprised when I landed on my feet and was able to carry on with what my husband and I started. - Laurie Bolle
they needed to understand that they needed to respect his wishes and mine, which wasn’t easy for them or anyone in a position where you just want to help. He was loved by many and looking for a miracle was endless. It put a strain on ‘family relationships’ but at the time, my husband’s wishes were my priority. Another challenge was accepting that ‘he accepted it’ before I was willing to accept it. He was given a very short time to live; therefore, needed to ‘ensure his things were in order.’ Instead of taking the approach of denial, he turned to me and asked what I needed? What I needed to learn? What did I need to know that he always took care of? Things like insurance, the lawn mower, maintenance on our vehicles, who to contact to sign our son up for summer T-Ball and if I needed help with signing up our daughter for dance classes….because those things were important enough to ensure they happened. He thought of his family first (before thinking of himself being sick) and did everything to ensure I had what I needed to continue raising our kids the way we originally talked about and hoped for. What surprised you the most while going through your cancer journey? 52 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
I was surprised by the news that my husband had cancer. At that moment, you don’t how you will deal with life without them. I was then surprised when I landed on my feet and was able to carry on with what my husband and I started—raising my Son and Daughter and guiding them into wonderful, successful, driven human beings. Surprised…by some of the comments people make when they don’t know what to say…and that I needed to simply understand they are trying to handle it the best way they can. Surprised that someone kept stealing the blankets that were left by our daughter at the cemetery ensuring he was ‘staying warm’ in his grave…but then finding a way to accept that someone else needed the blankets more to stay warm and trusting that my husband was somehow helping a good deed. Surprised by the number of people who have dealt with cancer themselves, with a loved one, with a co-worker…how everyone that you meet is touched with it in one way or another. How everyone wishes they could find a cure and fix it! But can’t. How it feels each time you hear the word Cancer, yet to this day. Lives change forever and forced us in a new direction the day a father, husband, friend died from Cancer. Explain how your family member/friend’s cancer diagnosis changed your outlook on life. I don’t take life for granted. Life is too short. Everyone has ‘something’ to deal with and we are each given as much as we can each handle. We need to accept support from friends and family but they also need to understand when you need to stand on your own two feet and deal with life’s challenges as we all know they will continue to come in various ways. I learned that I couldn’t let it control my life and my kids needed to learn the same. I had to continue to ‘parent’ and not feel sorry for them but I needed to be there in any way they needed (to deal with it)…for them. Structure was good to maintain along with ensuring my children understood life and what life deals us. It was great to move on….but to never forget how wonderful that person was. Never forget…you just move on to additional chapters in life.
Age: 44 City of residence: Stevens Point, WI Family: I married my wife on Friday, July 8th. She has a son who is 12 from a previous marriage. When were you diagnosed? December of 2011. I have BRCA1. What type of cancer were you diagnosed with? Fallopian Tube Cancer, stage 3c In the fall of 2011, right around my 40th birthday, I started having weird pains by my left rib cage. It was like nothing I’ve ever felt before. Throbbing, stabbing, sharp, breath taking. They’re all adjectives I can think of now to describe it. Doctors are notorious for asking “what does it feel like?” but before that day I wasn’t very good at answering them. 5 years of countless doctors’ appointments and I think it’s safe to say I’ve gotten pretty good at it. The whirlwind that was about to become my life, started on November 29th, 2011. That’s when my doctor had scheduled me for an ultrasound to determine why I was having those pains. The radiologist said I’d hear from them within 4 days. Imagine my surprise, when an hour later I received a call stating I needed to have a CT scan right away because I had a 10 cm, semi solid ovarian cyst on my right ovary. Whoa. What? There’s a grapefruit sized mass in my belly. How could that possibly be?! One week later, I was sitting in the doctor’s office listening to my family practice doctor tell me that not only did my CT scan show the cyst but enlarged lymph nodes and spots on my abdomen. Typically a radiology report uses words such as “probable” and “maybe” but in my case they
were more definitive. The “diagnosis” (only a biopsy could confirm) is Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer (later deemed to be Fallopian Tube cancer). Thankfully I had my entourage with me (Mom and twin sister Sara). I sure needed them as the tears started to flow and the nurse was telling me to go home and have a nice glass of wine. Nothing prepares you for hearing the word cancer. I don’t care what age you are, 5, 45, 90. No one walks away from that going “hallelujah, I got it.” It’s devastating news and it scares you, terrifies you really, but I knew with the love and support of family and friends plus a good network of doctors I could win this battle. There are many things that happen during the course of treatment and recovery that open your eyes to your internal insecurities and the insecurities of others. Hair loss was my big one. Wow, that one was a biggie. Who knew that losing a bunch of hair could cause so many different emotions? Mad, sad, insecure, confident, happy. They were all there. It took 2 weeks of pep talks to get up the
courage to shave my head. Doing it before I actually needed to gave me the upper hand. Doing it before it all fell out made me the boss of me. Not chemotherapy the boss of me. Let me tell you, that was the best thing for me to do. Once it was shaved off, I found out I actually didn’t mind it. In fact I kind of liked it. Who is this cool girl looking at me in the mirror with the confident smile? Wait, that’s me. Now I’m not saying if I had to do it again, I’d like it but for the 2 years I was bald, being able to get ready in the morning in less than 10 minutes was one of the greatest gifts ever. There are some things that came as a shock to me when I was diagnosed. The hardest one was loss of friendships. People just don’t know what to say when someone is sick so instead of not saying anything at all and sticking around, they disappear. This is not a good feeling. My best advice to those who know someone who has been diagnosed with any type of illness, is please don’t shy away. Be honest, be open, be present, be there. Let them know you don’t know what to say. Let them know you love
them. Let them know you’re scared too. Most importantly let them know that you will be there for them no matter what happens. That’s the best thing you can do. It’s been almost 5 years since I was diagnosed. I’ve had 1 recurrence and a 2nd that was avoided with the use of Avastin. Currently I have been deemed NED – no evidence of disease. My next Pet Scan is September 6th. I’m worried, a little scared and a lot hopeful. But I know, no matter what the outcome is one thing will remain the same. I have a loving network of family and friends that will remain by my side, lift me up when I need it and support me no matter what happens. Anne’s Army is there for me through thick and thin and for that I will be forever grateful. Peace, love and all that’s wonderful.
IN YOUR WORDS CONTINUED ON PAGE 54 >>>
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JOHN HARRINGTON Age: 72 City of residence: Marshfield Family: Wife – Susan; 3 sons – Scott, Erik, Sean; Brother – Robert; 3 brother and sister in Laws; 11 nieces and nephews When were you diagnosed? September 11, 2001 What type of cancer were you diagnosed with? Prostate Share your initial thoughts upon diagnosis. Denial; hope; anxiety; get it out ASAP Tell us about your support system and how they impacted your treatment. My family has been very supportive throughout my journey. During most of my journey, we conversed weekly on the phone; celebrated major holidays together; and had other trips together. My son, Scott, came back from his internship in Minnesota during the surgery to remove my prostate; all three of my sons, brother, several nieces have made the journey to Marshfield as the cancer became more advanced. Two of my sons are coming from California monthly since June. My third son is coming from Illinois on a regular basis. The Prostate Cancer Support Group at the Marshfield Clinic meets monthly during the year for education on various health issues and discussion of our cancer journeys My church family has been supportive. During this time of advanced cancer, various members have been furnishing us meals on a weekly basis. What surprised you the most while going through your cancer journey? My cancer progressed rapidly during 2016, and I was very surprised when I learned that I have 6 months or less to live What is your current health status/prognosis? Advanced prostate cancer that has spread to most of the bones in my body, my liver, and my brain. The tumor in my brain was growing from the bone behind my left eye. An MRI diagnosed the brain cancer in May when my brain was not functioning normally. I was hospitalized for 48 hours to solve several problems. My doctors gave me 6 months or less to live.
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Explain how your cancer diagnosis changed your outlook on life. I want to remain close to my family. It gives me a lot of joy to spend time with them. My wife helped my plan to get items on my “bucket list” accomplished. We participated in a group trip to Cuba in February; we went downhill skiing out west twice last winter; we saw our youngest son compete in the National Collegiate Triathlon twice. This April, 2016 he was 2nd in the nation in the Olympic distance National Collegiate Triathlon, having the fastest run for the day.
SUSAN HARRINGTON Age: 64 (65 on September 10) City of residence: Marshfield Family: Husband – John; 3 Sons; Both parents; 3 brothers and their wives; 11 nieces and nephews When was your family member/friend diagnosed? September 11, 2001 What type of cancer was your family member/friend diagnosed with? Prostate Share your initial thoughts upon your family member/friend’s diagnosis. John received the call from his doctor telling him that the biopsy of his prostate showed evidence of Prostate cancer. This call came in on September 11, 2001. He called me at work, Marshfield High School. Within the hour we saw the planes hit the towers in New York. I was numb the rest of the day. My students must have thought it was strange that I acted as if nothing had happened. My life changed that day and the only way to make it through was to teach like I did every other day. What were the challenges of supporting your family member/friend through treatment? I was a sounding board for John for most of his journey, and supported him in the choices that he made for the journey. As his cancer became more advanced I became more active, accompanying him to his doctor visits, radiation treatments, surgeries, visiting all day when he was in the hospital. When he was blue, I gave him a hug. In 2014, when the prostate cancer spread to his spine as was invading the spinal chord, we went together to Mayo Clinic to get a second opinion. They recommended the same treatment, surgery to remove the
tumor from the area. We decided to have the surgery in Marshfield with the Marshfield surgeon. During our trip to South Carolina in April 2016, John’s condition began to rapidly decline. On the way home I called the Marshfield Clinic to schedule an appointment with his Oncologist for the day after we drove home. I started a journal to record what I heard during the appointments, and tried to write down next steps. John was interested in the newest research into treatments of advanced prostate cancer. I supported him as he enrolled in trials at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, several years ago and at the Northshore Hospital system in the Chicago area this past January. He was kicked out of both studies because the cancer progressed out of their study perimeters. As John has declined, I have picked up more of the responsibilities he had done to take care of himself, such as getting his pills in order for the week, and making sure that he takes them, helping him dress, shower, helping him up and down the stairs. John was the Athletic Director and Physical Education Professor at the University of Wisconsin – Marshfield / Wood County for 40 years. He believed in keeping his body in great shape and preached at home and at work how important it is to eat right, exercise regularly, both aerobically and with strength training. We have continued to do this throughout his cancer journey. Today was the 9th day in a row that we took a short bike ride around our neighborhood. John’s friend loaned him a three-wheel recombinant bicycle that allows him to exercise on a bike. We also go to the YMCA so he can swim in the little pool, which is quite warm. I have supported, and helped him continue to exercise as the cancer progresses. What surprised you the most while going through your cancer journey? I thought that he would have the prostate removed, and that would be the end of our journey. We never expected that he would die from it. Explain how your family member/friend’s cancer diagnosis changed your outlook on life. We need to live in the moment, and enjoy
today. I have planned the last 12 months to do things on our bucket lists. August 2015, we made a return visit to Glacier National Park in Montana. I wanted to get there before the glaciers all melted. I made a campground reservation in the park for John and myself, and by the time we arrived my brother and sister-in-law from Utah, John’s brother, all three of our sons, and their significant others joined us in Glacier. We hiked trails we remembered from 30 years ago, saw the damage from the forest fire, and remembered the beauty of the park. Christmas 2015, we celebrated Christmas with family at our oldest son’s home in California with all our sons, and his wife’s parents and her sister, and significant others. We journeyed to Lake Tahoe to downhill ski in January. Our three sons skied or snowboarded, and my brother from Utah and his wife joined us. February 2016, we visited Cuba, which has been on John’s wish list for decades. March 2016, we went downhill skiing again in Utah. We stayed with my brother and his wife. April 2016, we traveled to South Carolina to see our son compete in the National Collegiate Triathlon Meet. We were so happy to be there and cheer him to a 2nd place finish in the Olympic distance event. When we got home in May, John said that there wasn’t anything left on his bucket list.
Age: 63 City: Marshfield, Wisconsin Family: Ken and Joellen Heiman Children: Michelle, Ryan, and Joshua Daughter in Laws: Amanda and Heather Grandchildren: Tyler, Sam, Eileigh, Jaedyn and Brooklyn When Diagnosed: I was diagnosed on March 14th, 2013 What type: Double Breast Cancer Thoughts: When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I felt like my life was over. How can I cope working full time plus managing a family. The first 2 weeks was just getting through the shock of the diagnosis and scheduling appointments with the can-
The support that I received has helped me get through this journey. I couldn’t have done it alone without the help of my husband, family, friends, medical staff, and customers at my work place.
has changed my outlook on life. I now appreciate and notice more the beauty of the sunrises, sunsets, birds, flowers, and nature in general. Also the friendships I developed along the way that people going through cancer need the support and love from other survivors. Someone asked me how I am doing. My response is I decided to hit it head on and don’t look back. We all go through difficulties in our life. Some are worse than others. Don’t sweat the small stuff and live for the moment.
cer team at the Marshfield Clinic. After a few discussions of what would be the best route, I decided on a bilateral mastectomy on March 27, 2013. Little did I know what was ahead of me. That morning I had a lot of anxiety, nervousness, and anticipation. Before surgery I meet with my surgeon in Nuclear Medicine so she could inject dye into my breast to see where the sentinel node was for surgery. After completing that task she turned to me and asked how I was doing. She grabbed my hand to assure me that everything was going to be alright. I could not help but cry and have a sigh of relief knowing I was in good hands. It’s been a long journey, appointments, surgery, expanding, chemo, radiation, implants and maintenance. And yes my definition of expanders are coconuts cut in half. The support that I received has helped me get through this journey. I couldn’t have done it alone without the help of my husband, family, friends, medical staff, and customers at my work place. The Marshfield Clinic has an awesome cancer support group that has helped me get through before and after diagnosis. You can get through your cancer journey with their help. “You are not alone.” As of now I am cancer free and my energy is back to what I was before. This journey
This is at my husband’s birthday party last year. Four of our granddaughters, my husband, great grandson and myself
My name is Diane Jacobson. I am married and my husband is in a nursing home. We came to Wausau sixteen years ago from Ironwood, Michigan. We had fallen in love with Wausau due to many trips over the years. One of our daughters had moved here years ago to work at the local hospital and is still there. We have one son and three daughters, five granddaughters and one baby great grandson. All live out of town with the exception of the one daughter. All the family have been very supportive during this bad time. Our daughter and son in law in Wausau are our main caregivers and look after us very well. I am able to do a lot of things now thank goodness. This is my cancer story. In early 2014 I kept getting a pain on the right side of my stomach. I thought that it was my arthritis then one morning in middle of March 2014, the pain sent me to the emergency room. I was still not very worried about it. After x-rays and tests, I was told that I had a cancerous tumor attached to my liver. I was in a state of shock, I felt like I had been run over by a train. I was told that surgery IN YOUR WORDS CONTINUED ON PAGE 56 >>> SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 55
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was not possible as veins and blood vessels were running through the tumor. Instead of surgery a small hole was going to be made in my groin and chemo was going to be put in to try to dry up the tumor. So far I have had this done seven times. The tumor has dried up to a point, it is still there and I have to have more treatments. I am still here too, two and a half years later. I have had good times and bad. What has helped the most has been my family, friends, neighbors, doctors, staff at the hospital, also at the rehab. They have made me see that my life was worth fighting for. Thank you all. Also staff at my husbands facility. Also in April 2015 we had a baby great grandson born. I am so glad I was around for that. What I would like to say is that fight as hard as you can. It really is worth it. Do not give up. If just one person is helped by my story then it will be worth telling.
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stage CHF and he needed me!) What about Bitsy? What about her internship in New Orleans? (She was supposed to leave in a few days!) How can I ruin Lindy’s summer this way? (We had so many exciting plans!) What about my one year old grandson? Will I still be able to play with him? How much information should we share with our kids? Will they worry?
Age 58 City: Wisconsin Rapids (Plover at the time of diagnosis) Family: husband, Don, 62, and five children: Brian, 33, (wife, Brittany, and Carter, 2) Tampa, FL; Tim, 32, (wife, Charys, and Xander, 6, Odyn, 5, Elyse, 3) Stevens Point; Sam, 28, Stevens Point; Bitsy, 26, (husband, James, and Shamore, 16), New Orleans, LA; Lindy, 20, UW-La Crosse I was diagnosed in May of 2011, at the age of 53. What started out as a routine mammogram quickly progressed to ultrasound and then another ultrasound and a core biopsy, followed by three days of waiting. The phone call with the diagnosis came on May 19, 2011. I heard the words, “You have invasive lobular carcinoma.” BREAST CANCER. I had been mentally preparing myself for days for this potential worst-case scenario. Maybe I’m a pessimist (“Negative Nancy”), but I prefer to have a plan and think (and pray!) through my options before actually entering a crisis. But can you ever really prepare yourself for something like this? Emotionally numb, my mind swirled with a million questions. From the practical, problem-solving kind: Ok, now what? What’s our next step? Where do I go? Who can I call that can give advice and recommend a good doctor? Will we need a second opinion? Followed by the fear-and-dread kind: Will I have to go through chemo? Will I get sick and lose my hair? Will I need a mastectomy? How will we pay for this?! (My husband had just lost his job and COBRA payments alone were more than the unemployment income) And then the everyday-family-impact kind: Who is going to take care of everything at home? What about my dad? (He was in end
We saw the surgeon the next day to discuss treatment options. A very close friend went along with us to help take notes, ask clarifying questions, and to provide emotional and spiritual support. Don and I were still somewhat in shock and we didn’t trust ourselves to think, make decisions or remember clearly. I remember the surgeon being very optimistic and hopeful, encouraging me that years later I would look back on this as “just a bump in the road.” I was given the option of a) lumpectomy plus 30-36 radiation treatments, or b) total mastectomy. Either option would be with or without chemo, pending lymph node biopsy. My tumor was small (just over a centimeter), so I was hopeful that we had caught it early enough that it had not spread to the lymph nodes. I really didn’t want to have radiation. Or chemo. Or a mastectomy, either, for that matter. But bolstered by the unconditional love, acceptance and support of my husband, I chose to have a complete mastectomy. Hopefully that would be all I would need and we could get on with life. I had surgery on May 25 and waited in dread for the pathology report. When it came back a week later it was not-so-good news. I had Triple Negative Breast Cancer, a less common, more aggressive type of cancer that has a lower 5 year survival rate and no options to keep it from returning after treatment. In addition, the surgery had not resulted in a clear margin, so I would need either another surgery, or radiation after all. And the cancer had spread to 2 out of 2 lymph nodes sampled. I would need chemo. Not a happy day. My oncologist set up a grueling treatment plan, starting off with the most difficult 4 cycles of dose-dense AC (once every 2 weeks). I started on June 20. Not gonna lie. AWFUL. Worst summer of my life (physically). And yup, I was going to be bald. I prepared for that by getting a cute short cut before chemo started, and then pre-emptively
shaved it off when it started coming out in clumps. I actually didn’t mind the red-bandana-rebel look, but when my eyebrows fell out I felt like a freak! Weekly (12 total) Taxol treatments began in mid-August and ended October 31. These did not make me as sick, and near the end my hair actually started coming back in! I started to think of chemo days as “spa” days. They really treat you like royalty in the Oncology Department! The staff is amazing! They sit you in your recliner, hook you up to the IV, put the footrest up and wait on you hand and foot! Would you like a warm blanket? Newspaper? Can I get you a cup of coffee? Soda? Juice? How about some soup? How are you doing? I actually started looking forward to chemo days as a time of guilt-free relaxation and an opportunity to read or chat with friends. After Taxol came 33 radiation treatments. Did you know you get ‘tattoos’ to mark the treatment area before you receive radiation? Oh, the things you learn in Oncology! Thankfully I did not have any bad side effects from the radiation. I got a bit of a ‘tan’
and some dryness and itching, but no bad burns or blistering, and not really any bad fatigue. The worst part of it was not being able to wear a bra (because it irritated the skin). That made me self-conscious and limited my wardrobe options. I wore a lot of baggy hoodies! Fortunately for me I went through radiation in the winter. But it did put a damper on holiday clothing choices. That made me feel ‘frumpy’ - And I already felt ugly from the loss of my hair and my eyebrows. Thankfully my husband was sweet, affectionate and affirming. I was excited and relieved to finish up my entire treatment program the week before Christmas. What a time of celebration! It felt so good to be DONE with a very challenging chapter of my life. Now that I am five years post-diagnosis (a HUGE milestone in Triple Negative Breast Cancer!!) I have nearly the same 10 year survival rate as regular breast cancer survivors (about 93%). I do not use the phrase “I am ‘cancer-free.’” My oncologist prefers to say that I am “without evidence of disease.” We recognize that it could come back at any
time. But for now, I am loving life! I am actually grateful for having gone through the whole cancer experience. As strange as this may sound, if given the opportunity to go back in time and stand at a fork in the road with the choice to take either the “Cancer Road” or the “No-Cancer Road”, I think I would actually take the “Cancer Road” again. For several reasons: 1) I have never felt so loved in my entire life. The outpouring of support was humbling, amazing and overwhelming. I don’t dare start listing names- for I will certainly overlook many- but family, friends, neighbors, church members, friends of friends, nurses, doctors, hospital volunteers, even people I didn’t know found ways to express their care. There were smiles, hugs, listening ears, meals delivered on a regular basis, flowers, emails, texts, Facebook messages, cards and letters, personal visits (from as far as Virginia and Florida!), phone calls, presents (a neighbor made me a ‘Star of Hope’ lap quilt!), head coverings, financial gifts, prayers, spending time with my daughter IN YOUR WORDS CONTINUED ON PAGE 58 >>>
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and husband (because I was too sick to be any fun), acts of service (like cleaning the house, driving me to chemo, running errands, planting and weeding the flowerbed, sitting with me at chemo and reading to me, mowing our lawn) - every day there was something!
Tell us about your support system and how they impacted your treatment. My husband, Keith, has been my ROCK. During my stem cell transplant when I was in Marshfield and everything had to be germ free and I could go nowhere, Keith was going through so much. He had to balance work stress and watch over me and take care of me. Of course, he also had to make sure all was well on the home front. He made me laugh in my weakest moments. When I felt like such a huge burden, he assured me these were some of the best days of our marriage. Driving through the zoo in Marshfield after my daily infusions was my daily highlight on those cold January days. to me whenever I was weak “Mom, God will help us through this.” As for Sam, seeing my 9 year old smile and hearing him giggle…what more can I say about my will to fight for life.
2) I have never known the faithful Presence of God so powerfully. Through the encouragement of a book given to me by my sister (One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp) I started keeping a gratitude journal. What a life-changing practice! His love is everywhere - we just need to train our eyes to see! Truly His mercies are new every morning! I found that the more I noticed, the more I saw. By the end of my treatment I had over 500 entries in my journal of ways that I had felt and experienced His personal love for me (whether through the timely word or hug or support from someone else, or through an encouraging Scripture in my daily readings; sometimes through a financial gift just when we needed it, or through something as simple as the beauty of a breathtaking sunset). 3) I learned that God is ENOUGH for me. He is all I need. I had been through plenty of challenges in my life and I had always prided myself in being strong, confident, capable, independent and able to handle whatever life threw at me. This was the first time in my life I felt like I had absolutely no resources of my own. I couldn’t do it. And that’s where I met His sufficiency. I learned that through all my losses : my health, our financial income, my ‘beauty’, my hair, my plans, my role as a friend, wife, mother and grandmother, my identity, my activities, my hope, any guarantee of a future, the love of my father (he passed away during the middle of my chemo) - so much was stripped away, including my self-reliance. I found myself being trained to depend on Him for everything. I discovered that “His grace is enough” and “when I am weak (in myself), then I am strong in Him.” (2 Corinthians 2:9,10). And I learned that my family will survive just fine, even if my cancer comes back. He was faithful to them during my treatment; He can be ENOUGH FOR THEM, TOO.
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doses of chemotherapy in one day. That is why they told me to pack a suitcase. I was blessed by God, my body handled the shot, IV and oral dose of chemo very well. I was able to go home that night.
Age: 53 City of residence: Wausau Family: married to Keith (celebrated our 25th anniversary on September 28th, 2016), Alexandra, our 19 year old daughter and Sam, our 12 year old son. When were you diagnosed? September, 18, 2013 What type of cancer were you diagnosed with? Multiple myeloma, stage3-4 Share your initial thoughts upon diagnosis. I still remember exactly where I was when I found out. I was making reservations for an anniversary weekend get-away to Bayfield, WI. When I hung up the phone, my husband called me from work. It was around 9 a.m. He told me that Dr. Islam had just called him at work and told him to have me pack a suitcase. I asked why? Keith said “Danette, I will be home in 15 minutes to pick you up. We have to go to the clinic. Dr. Islam is rearranging his entire schedule for today. You have cancer and they must start you on chemotherapy today.” When I hung up, I screamed and shouted “WHY?” They were not sure how my body would handle 3
*What surprised you the most while going through your cancer journey? The strength God gave me! Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. HOW true! *What is your current health status/prognosis? Although multiple myeloma can never be cured, I am currently in remission. On May 9th, I had a bone marrow biopsy and Dr. Islam got all the way to the core. No sign of multiple myeloma was found. I am in remission; every 6 weeks I have labs to check for spikes in my blood work. *Explain how your cancer diagnosis changed your outlook on life. My #1 goal in life before I died was to read through the entire Bible. I made it! Last summer, Keith and I traveled to Alaska for my dream trip. Land 7 days/cruise ship 7 days. This life is temporary, look forward to the eternal with God in true Paradise in Heaven. If cancer someday takes me or I die of old age, I am confident I will rest in Jesus’ arms. The peace I felt while I was going through my stem cell transplant, was a peace only Jesus can give.
KEITH JAEGER Age: 58
City of residence: Wausau Family: Wife, Danette, 53 years old; daughter, Alex, 19; son, Sam, 12 When was your family member/friend diagnosed? September 2013 What type of cancer was your family member/friend diagnosed with? Multiple myeloma Share your initial thoughts upon your family member/friend’s diagnosis. Let’s deal with this and let’s beat this. What were the challenges of supporting your family member/friend through treatment? I had a very demanding job at this point in my life. So to balance work with family and supporting my wife was very difficult. What surprised you the most while going through your cancer journey? It didn’t matter what I had to do whether it was balancing time or taking care of my wife’s physical needs, God made it ALL possible. Explain how your family member/friend’s cancer diagnosis changed your outlook on life. It personalized for me the expression “There are no guarantees in this life”.
KATHY KANIECKI Age: 47
City of residence: Stevens Point Family: Divorced/Engaged. Lucky to have both of my parents, a sister, brother-inlaw, nephew, niece, and my dog Vinney (a boxer) Diagnosed: July 2013 Type: Breast Cancer Where do I begin? I was due for a mammogram in early February of 2013 but never made the appointment. Three months had passed since I was due for one. I wasn’t concerned that I was overdue and had debated on just waiting till next year to have it done. After all, nothing would be wrong with me anyway right? I never did self-breast exams and always relied on the yearly tests. I finally decided to make an appointment and went in. It was about 2 days later that I received a letter in the mail stating that I needed to go back in for another test due to
there was a small spot they wanted to check out. No problem, not a big deal, so I go in for a second test. Another couple of days go by and I get another letter in the mail. This time it stated they wanted me to come back in and get a biopsy done. Oh, well this is something I didn’t anticipate but ok. I had spoken to a few of my friends and they were all like, “oh it will be ok. Everyone has that done at some point. It’s probably just a cyst. Everyone has those. Don’t worry, it will come back just fine”. So I made the appointment and I was feeling pretty good thinking it will be no big deal and I will be just fine. Several days had passed and I haven’t heard anything. Great, no news is good news right? Then it happened, early July I got a phone call. It wasn’t from the nurse like they usually are, it was from the Doctor himself. Now I know something is wrong, doctors never call with test results, the nurses do. I sat down and listened to him tell me that my test was positive, I had cancer. I heard the words but my mind couldn’t grasp the reality of what I just heard. He suggested that I come in and that he would go over any information I needed and go from there. I hung up the phone and just sat there in shock, that can’t be right, I can’t happen to me, what am I going to do? How am I going to tell my family and my boyfriend? They had all been asking about my test results and I just kept telling them I wasn’t worried. Ok, I have to call my Mom. I tell myself, don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry. I don’t really remember what I said to her but I remember her saying, “oh no”. I said I was going to meet with the doctor in a while and that she could go with me. She wasn’t able to go with me so the next person I thought to call was my boyfriend. How am I going to tell him? He was at work when I called. I told him the news and I could hear the pain and anger in his voice. Just hearing how upset he was made me start to cry. I told him about the meeting with the doctor. He spoke to his boss and his boss let him off for 2 hours to go with me not only for support but for an extra set of ears to comprehend what was going on. I had the meeting and then left stating I would make arrangements for surgery and such after discussing it with my family. I had many appointments to go to in order to get prepared and my Mother made it
People told me they were surprised at how well I took things and that I kept working the whole time while going thru it all. They called me brave, but I wouldn’t use that word on myself. It’s not about bravery, it’s about doing what I need to do in order to fight for those I love. -Kathy Kaniecki
very clear to me that she was going to every appointment I had whether I liked it or not because she is the “Mother”. I had to talk to the surgeon Dr. Anna Siedel ( unsure on the spelling) from Marshfield hospital, I had to talk to Dr. Fagbemi from the Wisconsin Rapids Center who would be overlooking my chemo treatments and I had to talk to Dr. Lillis of St, Mike’s hospital who would be my doctor for my radiation treatments. Now was the day of surgery. The reality still hasn’t fully hit me yet and I had no care or concerns about it. No big deal I thought. Surgery went well, now the next step chemotherapy. Now it’s finally sinking into my head that I really have/had cancer. Reality hit big time once my hair started to fall out. I had finally grown it to where I wanted it and now it was going to be gone. After chemo treatments were over, now it was time to start radiation. It was a lot better than chemo but I had to run there every day Monday-Friday for 7 weeks and that was tiring. I couldn’t wait to be done. Then IN YOUR WORDS CONTINUED ON PAGE 60 >>> SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 59
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the day finally came for my very last treatment, February 14, 2014. It was a happy and sad day for me. I felt attached to the people who had cared for me and showed so much compassion from the Marshfield Hospital, the Wisconsin Rapids Center, and St. Michaels. They were all super people and I’m glad I got to know them, even if it was because of a bad situation. I felt comforted and that I was somebody and not just another person they had to deal with for the day. The kind of comfort you get from your Mom when you scrape your knee or the comfort you get from your Dad when he wipes away your tears and says things will be ok. People told me they were surprised at how well I took things and that I kept working the whole time while going thru it all. They called me brave, but I wouldn’t use that word on myself. It’s not about bravery, it’s about doing what I need to do in order to fight for those I love. I took it one day at a time and to me it was just another day, nothing special about it. I had come to terms with whatever the outcome would be whether it was good or bad. Everyone handles things differently and for those diagnosed, you are the one who decides if you are going to be a victim or a survivor. Think positive things to keep you going, like family, friends, and happy memories. Support the fighters, admire the survivors, and honor the taken.
TONYA KAROW, BSN, PHN, LMT
me purpose, direction and has lead me to massage therapy with advanced training in oncology to help clients, family members and friends of those diagnosed, embrace this disease and fight back. Not everyone is as fortunate as my mom, and for those I can provide comfort and present. The day my world stopped turning, I thought a cancer diagnosis was a death sentence. I now realize that it was the day God lovingly spoke to my heart and said, “my grace is sufficient enough for you, your mom AND cancer to do my will. Go serve and be my servant.” Additional thoughtsWith over 584,000 people a year; 1500 a day, in the US diagnosed with cancer it is so important that professionals working with this population have additional training that is sensitive to the unique needs this population presents. (Source- American Cancer Society). It’s important for the treatment of each individual to be as unique as their personal journey on acceptance and integration of this diagnosis. 6 years ago when I thought my world was falling apart, the reality of it all was God was placing all the broken pieces and putting them all into place. I want to help those going through cancer treatment to see that there is hope, life and beauty not yet realized. Where there is devotional music, God is always at hand with His gracious presence. ~Johannesburg Sebastian Bach
City: Kronenwetter, WI
Diagnosed: 6 years ago today cancer free! My mom, and best friend, is a breast cancer survivor of 6 years now. However, the moment she called to tell me her diagnosis is forever engrained in my inner core and being. The diagnosis was out of left field, with no warning signs and it was the day my world stopped turning; or so I thought... My universe literally held its breath and my life was forever changed. I went from being a nurse who cared FOR patients with dire diagnoses to the caregiver of the one who HAD this diagnosis. This was not the story I had ever envisioned being a player in. However, it was the one that God needed me to partake in. The journey that laid ahead gave 60 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
Age: 39 City of Residence: Mosinee Husband: Brian Daughters: Annabella 12, Kiarra 10 Type: Breast Cancer at 38 Occupation: High School Math Teacher
My cancer story began on November 1, 2015. I began documenting my feelings and the details of my journey through Facebook entries. Cancer detection Post: I have had numerous people ask me how I found out I had cancer. I am 38, so I have not had scheduled mammograms yet! I felt pain in my breast on Sunday, November 1. I had noticed a crease/dent/dimple in the past 1-2 months - I thought it was just aging. I googled after the variety show- the pain & the dimpling - then did a self exam. That spot felt different. Not clear enough that I thought I had cancer, but different. The crease was between my 2 Tumors. The pain went away on Tuesday. Ladies - If you notice any changes at all - get yourself checked!! ASAP - I found the issue on November 1 and had the bilateral mastectomy November 12. Honestly - I feel early detection has saved my life. I will also add that there have been many GOD moments in the past 1-2 months that I firmly believe made me aware of this situation & have helped me to deal with this cancer head on, with strength, courage and faith. I will share these moments someday. One final note!!! It’s not about “Saving the tatas” - it’s about “Saving women’s lives!” Reflection on diagnosis Post: I have done A LOT of reflecting lately. This has been my conclusion over the past few days.... My life has a plan and I have been blessed with the journey I have traveled so far. I found my true love at 18 and have spent an amazing 20 years together. I have been blessed with 2 precious girls who make me laugh and be thankful every day. I have developed strong friendships that span several decades of my life. My extended family is amazing and supportive. I have developed strong connections with my church. The people I have met in my different teaching positions, my students over the years are a true blessing in my life’s journey. Thank you for your support kind words and encouragement!! I am strong. Cancer Details Post: Today’s appointments left me feeling thankful and ready for the next step. Here are the details: Pathology reported 2 tumors 8mm & 11 mm of invasive carcinoma. Extensive Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)- which means I had pre-cancerous on my back wall close to
my muscle. The mastectomy successfully removed the two Tumors and the DCIS. The margins on the DCIS were negative (which is good and means I won’t need radiation- the cancer was within 1mm of the chest muscle). My cancer is hormone positive - so I will be taking oral medication and begin chemo December 3. The chemo will be 4 sessions every three weeks. My cancer Dr said I was very fortunate to catch this so early - if it was January our conversation would be much different, he thinks the DCIS would have probably advanced quickly. The clear lymph-nodes are such a blessing. Praise the lord for guiding me to get this checked out so quickly. Thank you for all the prayers and support as I continue on this journey. Reflecting on the past 9 months – written 8/4/16 “Never underestimate the power of PRAYER, FAITH and LOVE.” This quote resonates deeply with my journey. I continue to be humbled by the outpouring of love and support I have received in the last 9 months. I am truly blessed. The amount of people that supported my family is simply incredible. I was diagnosed with cancer and my #lisastrong support team showed up, and continue to show up. The kindness and compassion we experienced will forever be held in my heart. The website www.mealtrain.com allows friends and family to organize and sign up for meals. The meal train that was set up for my family was wonderful. Family and friends delivered food to our home for 4 months. The gift of a meal gave our family a consistent plan, reduced stress, and allowed me to rest and recover. It was one of the MOST appreciated gifts we received. My sister-in-law designed #lisastrong tshirts. It is such a cool thing to see all of the people who are supporting you – whenever I see a #lisastrong shirt – I feel love & support. Mosinee High School hosted a basketball game in support of my cancer battle. I was also interviewed by Channel 7 for Buddy Check. “Cleaning for a Reason”, a service in central WI, that offers free house cleaning for breast cancer patients was a blessing, as I recovered from chemotherapy treatments. It felt so good to have our house cleaned. http://www.cleaningforareason.org
Cards, emails, texts, Facebook messages, phone calls, walks, and visits were uplifting. I received flowers, gift cards, blankets, care packages, books, journals, jewelry, make-up, family members decorated/ undecorated my house for Christmas, and so much more. The outpouring of love and support helped to keep me strong. My advice, if you are thinking about someone, let them know. Reach out to them; offer your love and support. I was not alone. Breast cancer survivors embraced me; they listened to my fears, shared experiences, and offered hope. I have met a number of wonderful women through this journey, here in central WI and on the internet. When I was diagnosed, I did not think, Why me? I wanted information and to formulate a plan. I was focused on making the best decisions to impact my future. I approached this past year with a set of benchmarks that I had to overcome. I would focus on the immediate task and power through each stage. I prayed. I prayed a lot. I had a mantra that I repeated on really tough days. “I am strong. God is with me.” Hundreds of people prayed with me. In reflecting, this year has been a compilation of a lot of big moments, broken down and overcome one at a time. Step 1 Nov 1 Found Lump Step 2 Nov 5 Official Diagnosis – Cancer in 3 spots Step 3 Nov 12 Bilateral Mastectomy Step 4 Dec 1st Chemo Step 5 Dec 24 Christmas Eve – Hair started to fall out Step 6 Dec 28 Shaved my head Step 7 Feb 12 Finished Chemo Step 8 End of March Stopped wearing my hat & wig Step 9 July 1 Hysterectomy Step 10 Future - Reconstruction I am currently taking tamoxifen. Reconstruction is the next step. I hope to bring awareness to early detection and to share my story in hopes of helping other women on this journey.
Being an advocate for your health is important, you know your body. -Elaine Kizewski
Age: 65 - Oct 8th City of residence: Plover, WI Family: Husband Rich 67 married 39 years, 3 children Brian 38, Kim 36 & Dan 33 Diagnosed: Oct 15, 1915. Type: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Grade 0-1 A story of Research and Technology working My mother always taught me to have regular checkups, question the Doctors and if you are not sure get a second opinion. Annual checkup and mammogram. October 2015. I was told about 3D imaging and that my insurance may not pay. With my family history, older sisters with breast cancer at age 50 & 65. Our mother passed at 86 from Ovarian Cancer. I said ok to 3D. It cost me $55. Oct 15th ultra sound - cancer. Being a techno family, we looked for options. I beat cancer in 3 months and feel guilty I got off so easy. But this is a positive, research and technology is working. Being an advocate for your health is important, you know your body. I grew up in the 70’s with the book “Our bodies, Ourselves” Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN was doing a new radiation treatment. Catheter Based Bracy Therapy3 days of radiation versus 4-6 weeks. Made an appointment and headed to Minnesota. First appointment, double mastectomy was mentioned because of my family history. I said no that was not an option. I deIN YOUR WORDS CONTINUED ON PAGE 62 >>> SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 61
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cided to have gene testing. Not for myself but for my children and grandchildren. We do not have the gene! My family is a fluke! Best call I could make to my children and grandchildren, we do not have the gene!
ANDREW J. KUZYK
Then they wanted me to wait to see a plastic surgeon. That would be end of January. I asked if a mastectomy is done, can they do the plastic surgery later? Answer yes. I said lets get rid of this damn spot. I’ve bruised myself enough trying to find a lump. There is no lump. Surgery scheduled December 11th. Going into surgery they ask you what you are hear - I answered lumpectomy, possible Brachy Catheter, possible Mastectomy. Reality hit I have breast cancer. Surgery went great. Sentinel node and another node removed - negative! Went out to dinner that night with my Brachy therapy device in my side I was number 31 for this therapy at Mayo Clinic. They put you in a tube type top over the incisions and device. I had a hard time not singing “Good Vibrations” from the Beach Boys. Husband did great changing the dressings over the weekend. Monday - prep for radiation- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday direct radiation through the catheter. No side effects, no burns When you are done with your treatment you are to ring the bell 3 times. Sitting in this waiting room, do I have the right to celebrate? I was very lucky and had great local technicians and radiologists. I took control and used the new technology for my benefit. But it is different. I call it my little bout with cancer but feel an outsider. We should embrace the technology. I did breast cancer in 3 months. 3D Mamo $55 Doctors said smallest cancer they saw detected by a mammogram. Stand up for your body, you know what you need $55-no lump- Breast cancer in 3 months. No chemotherapy, no medications, check up every 6 months. I was lucky and you can be lucky by embracing the new technology. I am giving back for our children and grandchildren by being in 4 research studies. This will be beat! 62 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
THE LONE SURVIVOR
World’s Only 6 Time Cancer Survivor BY ANDREW J. KUZYK l August 27, 2016 MCDONOUGH, Ga.-- When I first began my journey with cancer I read a slew of books and articles about how cancer recovery is supposed to happen. Many of the theories, spoke about the need to integrate the physical and mental trauma by being able to tell your story. Huge road block; I just couldn’t open up and tell my story. Did that mean I wouldn’t be able to heal? Because of the various theories I read, and because I didn’t have the benefit of a trauma trained professional who could have told me, “No, you don’t have to be able to tell your whole story! Healing can happen without graphically detailing the events.” I decided that in order to get better I must get busy at finding a way to narrate my battles with cancer. I sat down and diligently began writing out what had happened to me, from the years of surgeries, biopsies and medicines of my trauma, through the inescapable horror, doubt, and beyond. Almost immediately upon diving into this project my memories came flooding back: anxiety, crying, grief and nightmares hounded me more and more. Still I pressed ahead. Then a funny thing happened: writing about my cancer started to give me clarity and comfort. It helped me put the many desperate pieces of my cancer puzzle together. I began to see myself and my cancer as they intertwined and also separately. I began to make connections and developed understanding that had eluded me. All this clarity gave me insights into what I required to
tell my story. My name is Andrew J. Kuzyk and I reside just south of Atlanta in McDonough, Georgia. On the outside I look just like an ordinary 53-year-old man. What you may not know is how strong of faith I am and how I have miraculously survived deadly cancers six different times now under grim circumstances. Of course, writing my cancer journey in and of itself did not completely resolve the pain and struggles I still face today, there were many actions and prayers that have led me to where I am today. What I love about my cancer journey is it proves that with faith and prayer we can recover and develop as people in ways that permit us to achieve things later on in our lives after cancer and physical trauma. Writing my journey has helped me reclaim control at a time I really needed to feel that. I chose the words. I chose how to tell my story. I chose the details. While it isn’t necessary to tell my story to heal, there comes a certain feeling of overcoming my fears of cancer coming back again. Control and choice are two things I don’t feel much of in fighting cancer. Writing is one way I can gain them back again. Oncologists told me that I am now the only man in the World to beat cancer six times. I have attained a healthy outlook on life, because I do believe in the Lord and I am convinced the Lord heals those who have faith. My battles with cancer began when I was first diagnosed with malignant melanoma skin cancer at the tender age of 8. My surgeon Dr. Lawrence Grennan was forced to take about an inch of my right ear. I’m glad they did, because kids would always make fun of the way it looked before the surgery. I thought nothing much of it back then, cancer was not illness it is now. Then at age 17, I was afflicted with rare cancer in my appendix. Emergency surgery removed the organ just before it would have ruptured. All I could do was thank God. Later that same year, I had been experiencing excruciating left leg pain and doctors discovered that I had malignant tumor in my lower leg bone. It was literally just a matter of surgeons taking a bone saw and literally sawing my leg in half to get at the tumor. “It was a very long, slow recovery.” About five years
later while at college I had a couple of dark but innocent moles examined by a dermatologist and the biopsies were both diagnosed as stage-4 malignant melanomas. Stage-4!! I read that nobody recovers at the final stage. To beat this would require a miracle no question about it. This was a dark diagnosis to be sure and all I could do was pray...pray hard. It was time to lean hard on my faith again. The surgeon told me two extra wide, deep excision surgeries were the only hope we had and even then, the prognosis was bleak. I had the painful and agonizing surgeries and to date no residual cancer! God answers prayer. I thought 5 times was really quite enough. However at 47, cancer had another curveball ready for me. I was already in an Arizona hospital undergoing a cardiac Catheter procedure, when unimaginable pain developed in my right back area. I was rushed to get a body scan and it was not good at all. A bright mass showed up in my right kidney...renal cell carcinoma, a very deadly cancer. Back in my hospital room, a team of surgeons and oncologists entered my room to discuss the removal of my cancerous kidney and a very limited life expectancy. The large tumor was located right in the heart of the kidney. They told me the grim prognosis and I told them to take the kidney. My life expectancy was that I may live two months or perhaps two years. I began writing about that time and found comfort doing so. Writing is an incredibly powerful tool in the recovery process. However, it’s not likely to cure my apprehensions all by itself. That was a couple years ago and I am still here! Open your heart, open your mind and pray about what is going on in your life. Trust me, there is healing in his name. As I sit here writing this I am free of cancer. I still have Lupus, I still have peripheral neuropathy, I still have Alzheimer’s, I still need double knee replacement and.....I Still Pray!
MITZI M. MOH
August 3. Copyright © 2016 Mitzi M. Moh On August 3, 2012 at 12:07 p.m., my primary care physician told me that I had cancer. I remember being numb and clueless and feeling very alone and lonely for I had no one to go home to and share the news. On August 3, 2012, my world changed forever. An independent woman now needing help. Would I be able to work? Would I go bankrupt? Would I make the right decisions? Would I DIE? On August 3, 2012, all my relationships changed; most for the better, some for the worse. On August 3, 2012, I had no idea what I would go through not only with cancer, but with many other aspects of life because of it. On August 3, 2012, I was unaware I would have multiple surgeries, zillions of medical appointments, months of chemo, and tons of blood draws and medical tests. On August 3, 2012, I had no idea how many people would be involved in my care or how many painfully serious conversations I would have to absorb. On August 3, 2012, I started to learn how ignorant people were about cancer and vowed I would do my part to make that change. On August 3, 2012, I committed myself to learning about the abnormal cells trying to kill me. On August 3, 2012, I turned the corner to go home only to see the Relay for Life tents across the street promoting awareness and raising money. On August 3, 2012, I starting learning that a lot of people make a lot of money in the name of cancer.
On August 3, 2012, I was once again awakened by the outpouring of unconditional love, generosity and support of others. August 3, 2012, was a game-changer. August 3, 2012, was a bad day. Fast Forward Four Years August 3, 2016, I still go in for follow-up appointments. August 3, 2016, I’m still scared to death and I still cry frequently because of it. August 3, 2016, there remains no further evidence of disease. August 3, 2016, I’m still here and going strong. “It’s Cancer!” Copyright © 2014 Mitzi M. Moh The dreaded wait, The fateful words, The gloomy day. “It’s Cancer.” GASP! The doctor said, “It’s Cancer.” I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut: numb, scared, shocked, stunned-HELP! I can’t talk: anxious, lost, lonely, dazed. “IT’S CANCER!” Tearful. Alone, Exhausted, How will I do this? What will happen? What is my future? My life – changed forever. I want my mind back. I need support that I never expected. I keep hearing the word cancer, CANcer, CANCER. A label I don’t want. A throng that is too large. “IT’S CANCER!” A bond with others who have heard the same ANY IS TOO MANY... TOO MUCH CANCER Together we HOPE. Together we LEARN. Together we HEAL. IN YOUR WORDS CONTINUED ON PAGE 64 >>> SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 63
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My Grandmother, my mentor. Best friend and therapy....Baby Bella.
Pillow given to me by client at Standing Ovations.
One of my hospital stays
Profile of me
I clinched this pocket card in my hand from my first doctors appointment, to every medical procedure and surgery. It was part of me and 3 times it was thrown into the hospital laundry and found by a nurse in my hospital gown. I still take it with me to every medical appointment..
2011 I climbed to the top of the Duomo, Florence Italy (465 cold clammy cave- like steps)
Famous “shoe chair” decorated my shop for 13 years and was finally donated to Women’s Community fund raiser.
64 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
My business, Standing Ovations - 13 years!
On a beautiful August morning in the summer of 2000, I left my home to go to a doctor appointment before work. I had just returned from my Grandmother’s 100th birthday celebration in San Diego, and knew the exhaustion of the trip plus previous symptoms needed to be addressed. Almost immediately, tests and vitals revealed that I was not going on to work, but return home, pack a bag and go to the hospital. My primary physician did not know what was wrong, but she told me that it could be serious and that it was fortunate I survived my trip to California without incident. That same day, after a series of labs, additional tests and three blood transfusions, the doctor came to my hospital bedside to inform me that I had late Stage III Colon Cancer. In the blurriness of his voice, the only word I really heard was CANCER. In an instant, my mind reflected the healthy girl I had been all my life. I had never been hospitalized other than for the birth of my two children, had never been sick, took no prescriptions, and seldom required aspirin for pain. How could I have cancer? I recall not breaking down and not even crying at my news. I do recall a spiritual presence of strength, peace and calm overtaking my mind and being. I didn’t know what battle I was facing, but I wasn’t going to give in or give up. I put my trust in my physician, who just happened to be on call, but above all, I placed myself in the care of Jesus. I felt calm assurance that no matter what I was facing, I would be alright. My life-changing diagnosis revealed a plan of radiation three times a week, a 24 hour porta pack of chemotherapy to be placed into my chest, additional blood transfusions, more hospital stays and ulti-
mately, surgery. While I had physical challenges ahead of me, I was also faced with the decision about the business I owned. Ten months earlier, I had fulfilled my passion and dream by opening STANDING OVATIONS Consignment Boutique in Washington Square, downtown Wausau (now Second Peek Boutique). Initially, signs were posted, “Closed due to illness”, followed by “Business for Sale”. The reality of letting go of my shop was heart- wrenching. I had built a base of loyal customers and a partnership of clientele across the country. I knew I couldn’t let them down, and felt even more determined to get this particular journey behind me and get back to what I loved. In the midst of prayer and deliberation, friends began to contact me, offering to do whatever they could to keep Standing Ovations open until I got better. This was my answer. The challenges of calls from my hospital bed back and forth to my shop, ultimately kept the business going. To all those “angels” who made it happen, I will be forever grateful!
The life altering days, weeks and months to follow were multi-faceted. They were comprised of ups and downs, but I never lost my will and determination to overcome the obstacles and survive. After a month of treatments, my body reacted negatively to all the chemo and radiation and forced me back into the hospital. I became very sick, burning up with fever and hallucinating. Test results revealed that my entire GI tract had become swollen and infected and my body was shutting down. Later, I was told that three very concerned doctors outside my hospital room told my family there was little they could do and that my chances for survival were very slim. A “prayer alert” was sent out that night by my family. Miraculously, my situation began to improve. The following weeks of hospitalization entailed recovery and building my body back up for my cancer surgery. The surgery took place on November 1. I’ll never forget the words of the surgeon at the end of that day. He said, “I don’t know what kind of connection you people have up there, but this wasn’t me. The cancer is gone and we
found no residual cancer cells anywhere.” Hearing those words, I finally broke down and cried......tears of joy and thanksgiving. I recall the happiness of being released from the hospital on that snowy day in November of 2000. For the first time ever, I actually noticed the intricate patterns in snowflakes as they landed on my black coat. I saw trees on the way back to my home that I had never noticed before. My experience has fine-tuned my awareness of beauty in nature all around me, and also to appreciate the little things in life and those who surround me. I will always be grateful to my family, my caregivers, who never left my side. They gave me an awareness and appreciation for what it must be like from the other side. I recall my daughter, who every night in the hospital, raised her head from her cot at my every move to make sure I was ok. I remember my son, one night in the hospital, saving me from brushing my teeth with Preparation H Extra Strength instead of toothpaste. I recall my husband, soothingly reading to me until I could fall asleep. I IN YOUR WORDS CONTINUED ON PAGE 66 >>>
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remember my parents and their visits; eyes swelling with tears they didn’t want me to notice. And I will never forget my diet which lasted for a week and consisted of ice chips and blue raspberry popsicles. Recovery was slow but steady. I required no further treatment or medication. By December, I gradually returned to my shop and was feeling good again. I was blessed to own and operate Standing Ovations for twelve more successful years, selling it in 2012. I have come to appreciate that life is fragile and can be altered in a heartbeat. I try not to take things for granted or lightheartedly. I have learned that people are more important than things. Gratefulness is what I feel for family, friends and “cheerleaders” from all over the country, my medical staff, and business partners, for their care, concern, encouragement, letters, visits and prayers. Because of them and my faith and trust in my divine healer, I am still here today. In the spring of 2001, and every year after, I went back to San Diego to visit my Grandmother until she passed away at age 105. Though miles separated us, she was my mentor and source of inspiration my whole life. She drove her car well into her 90’s and only then did family take her keys away to keep her off the freeways. She lived alone in her home until she was 102. I recall how when waking up in the morning, she welcomed the “zest” in the day before her. She always got dressed before breakfast, which always included jewelry, a little rouge on her cheeks, lipstick and heeled shoes because she believed they made her legs look better. Her theory, into her seasoned age, was “Be ready to go, because you never know who might call to take you to lunch or out dancing!” She lives on in my memory and flashbacks of her inspire me daily. My “Bucket List” is long. It does not tire me, but instead inspires me to think about and dream of all I hope to do yet in my life. Just maybe I have enough of my Grandmother’s genes and health to make them happen and come true. This November I am blessed to be marking my 16th year as a cancer survivor. Each year becomes a milestone mark for those 66 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
of us who have survived the “Big C”. I am committed to continue encouraging and inspiring those who are in the journey.
Original car which I still have.
New car from Ford & Roush.
Age: 56 City of residence: Marshfield Family: Linda Neve (spouse) Connie Neve (mother) Karen Gates (sister in law-deceased), Joan Fait (mother in law) Sharron Mixdorf (sister in law – currently fighting) Dean Ogurek (friend) When were you diagnosed? 2015 What type of cancer were you diagnosed with? Skin When was your family member/friend diagnosed? My mother and wife were diagnosed a little more than a month apart. Thanksgiving 2009 and January 2010 What type of cancer was your family member/friend diagnosed with? Breast (women) Prostate (Dean) By Charlene Fullweiler On Thanksgiving Day of 2009 Dan’s mother informed him and his family that she was diagnosed with breast cancer and needed surgery. The surgery went well and treatments started. The big change came for him and his wife on January 11th when they received a call that Linda, his wife, had tested positive with breast cancer. More tests were done but unfortunately it was confirmed and a lumpectomy with radiation was scheduled. After the lumpectomy was performed, further tests were done but unfortunately
another call was received stating they did not get it all and Linda would need to have a mastectomy. The trip they both had looked forward to in Hawaii was now cancelled and replaced with surgeries and healing instead. Dan had been looking to purchase a new Shelby for a while and decided to go ahead and purchase it. Not just to have the car but to make use of it by raising funds and awareness for this disease. Dan is an avid Mustang enthusiast, and for the past 5 years has hosted a fall car cruise in the Wisconsin Dells for those of similar interests and members of Fords Special Vehicle Team – Owners Association. It was this event that Dan could make an impact by not just getting together for fun but to make a difference. The name of the event became “Cruise for a Cause” and the ideas started to role in. His first thought was to contact every Ford dealer in the state and explain how he wanted to make a difference. To do this he asked Ford dealers for a donation. In return for this tax deductible gift they also would have their logo/ name added to the car – as a decal in pink. He would take the car to as many events as possible to showcase the car and those that supported him. With 100 plus dealer logos it would make quite a statement. He had sent out over 100 flyers to dealers and waited for a response; after 2 weeks went by he started to call them to make sure they received the information and if they would help out. Dan had figured that with over 100 dealers and each gave $100 average he could raise a minimum of $10,000. He soon realized that his first thought was not going to go the way he had planned, only 2 of the many dealers he had contacted gave their support. Time for plan B. Being in a business with many contacts he started to ask industry partners and associates for their support, he would place their logo on the car and promote them as much as possible. Dan did receive support form National SVTOA, his first show was in early May and he was able to have some Pink added to the car for it. Dan’s commitment was not just to raise funds from businesses but also to display the car and ask for donations at car events throughout the entire car show season up until the scheduled Oct 9th “Cruise for a Cause”.
Promoting awareness was just as important as raising the funds so the more he displayed the car the more awareness he provided. Donations were to go to Susan G Komen or the Leroy Butler Foundation, with the Marshfield Clinics Breast Cancer Angel Fund being added along the way. The National SVTOA asked Dan if he would take the car out to Virginia’s International Raceway on Memorial Day weekend for the SVT Superfest and offer charity rides in the 2011 race cars provided by Ford, Dan jumped at the chance. Not only did he sell the chance to ride but he also spent 2 days strapping them into the cars for a safe event. Over 65 individuals had taken rides on those 2 days and all proceeds raised would go to the Susan G Komen Race for a Cure. By the end of the weekend he was off to a good start to reach his goal. By this time he had put almost 3700 miles on a car that most people keep parked in their garages and save for as investment. He continued to contact more and more businesses and kept busy on weekends going to show after show with the car.
In the meantime 2 more surgeries were undertaken by his wife, keeping her comfortable (her comfort was a priority for him) he never missed an appointment of hers and kept her spirits up as much as possible. Things turned very positive for Dan when Ford accepted him and the car to be a part of their display at the annual International Challenge Race held at Road America and then added him to the Shelby display for the entire week as part of the EAA’s AirVenture in Oshkosh. These two opportunities exposed him to many thousands of individuals. The local media took notice and Dan was featured on a few of the TV news networks, newspapers and radio stations. This is more then he could have imagined but is exactly what he had hoped for. From meeting Edsil Ford, Carroll Shelby and having photos of Ken Griffy Jr, Leroy Butler, and Thurman Thomas taken with the car, he has done more than he had hoped for. The crowning event for the summer was when the inaugural Central Wisconsin Komen Race in Wausau took place and the car was used as the pace vehicle for the run-
ners, at this event Dan was able to address the thousands of participants with his message and goals of the “Cruise for a Cause”. By the first of October the $10,000 was surpassed, he also had a record number in attendance at his Fall Cruise event that took place in Wisconsin Dells at the Chula Vista Resort on October 9th. With close to 100 in attendance and 50 cars, including special guests Green Bay Packer great Leroy Butler and Ford Performances John Clor. After the final count was made just under $11,500 was raised by Dan. This has been a yearlong endeavor almost for Dan and he recently found out that it was not over yet. Dan will now be displaying the car out in Las Vegas as part of SEMA (Special Equipment Manufacturers Association) show. This is considered the super bowl of the automotive world and the car that Dan used to help create awareness and raise some funds along the way will be there. Both Dan’s mother and wife are currently doing well and he has yet to decide what IN YOUR WORDS CONTINUED ON PAGE 68 >>>
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he will do next year to keep the fight for a cure alive. Dan spoke at the Komen race and said that as a child he remembered individuals with Polio but does not know of anyone now. His hope is the same for his grandson, that he will be able to say the same thing about breast cancer when he becomes an adult. By Dan Neve My plan was to do the “Cruise for a Cause” for the one year – well we are now in the latter half of 2016 and I am still using most of my vacation days and traveling across the country to raise awareness and funds to find a cure. I have traveled to 26 states, met hundreds of thousands of individuals, comforted and hugged so many survivors and their loved ones that you wonder how so many can be affected? Meeting a father and his 2 young sons who stopped to see the car, then informed you that his wife, their mother just died a few months earlier, all you can do is say how sorry you are, give him a hug and break into tears. It is amazing to me that this journey that I have taken has brought so many people into my life that I never imagined meeting let alone knowing. The Ford Motor Company, Ford Performance, Roush Performance, Shelby American and many other companies have made it possible to keep moving forward. Last year Ford decided that I had put enough miles on the GT500 that they gave me a new car to drive. Then Roush said that they should make it stand out so they made it into one of the top cars available. With 6 years now behind me, almost $200,000 raised to support cancer research. A Fall event with attendees from across the country who enjoy a golf tournament, car show, banquet and many other activities. Working so close with the Marshfield Clinic and all of the wonderful people there -I never would have imagined it How has this changed my life? All I can say is: Everything has changed in my life. In most ways I am lucky, my wife, mother, mother in law are all still with us. In fact the survivor rates are now so common that we expect everyone to make it through. Unfortunately with having lost a sister in law, I understand the pain so many still have to deal with for those who lose their fight. 68 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
BEFORE. Me on the left, Kim on the right.
August 13, 2015
August 14, 2016
Age: 49 City of residence: Mosinee Family: husband Paul, 16 year old daughter Marina, 16 year old foreign exchange student Anna, 7 year old yellow lab Jasper When was your family member/friend diagnosed? June 3rd, 2015 What type of cancer was your family member/friend diagnosed with? Stage 2A triple negative breast cancer Starting with gratitude for a friendship and a breast cancer diagnosis, may present as conflicting. Although I have come to understand, I am equally thankful for both. I have lived my life by the rule that
everything happens for a reason, I met Kim 20 years ago and she was diagnosed with breast cancer 1 year ago as guidelines for the direction of my life. Our friendship is a once in a lifetime. She is the other half of who I am and there are strengths and challenges that make us one whole and propel us forward. The day Kim shared her definitive diagnosis was my darkest day in this journey. Selfishly that day I made about myself. I wondered how I would cope, I struggled with what my actions would be and I cried with emotion of the unknown. On day two, that all changed. I simply knew, I was to do what I have been blessed to do for 20 years, love her. I moved to action and that action exists today and will continue throughout. Larger than action was certainty, I did not have one moment of concern for Kim to survive this, I just knew she would. I look at a year of treatments, 2 hour drives to medical appointments and surgeries as times of hugs, hand holding, long talks and love. It’s all friendship to me. I suffered no challenge of support during this time, it felt natural and I could not get enough of being with her and going through it together. Kim’s diagnosis changed everything and changed nothing at the same time. I knew before cancer, there was nothing we could not handle, I learned throughout the past year that it was possible to get closer and ultimately it was confirmed for me, that how Kim navigated it depended upon both personal choice and those around her. I had two end goals – one to accept every step of this journey by Kim’s side and two to love her. While I have been told what I did was extraordinary, I truly feel I did for her what she has done for me. This feels like a testament of friendship verses support, I have come to learn and live that they are one in the same.
JULIE RHYNER Age: 56
City of residence: Stratford Family: My husband Gary, 3 children, 8 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren When were you diagnosed? February 2011 What type of cancer were you diagnosed with? Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) Share your initial thoughts upon diagnosis. I was surprised. I knew I didn’t feel well, but I never imagined I had leukemia. There are five stages of grief when confronted with a devastating situation including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. Unfortunately, not everyone reaches acceptance and a feeling of peace. When I heard the diagnosis though, I honestly did not go through these stages. I went straight to acceptance. I knew in my spirit God would heal me and no matter how hard things got I could never suffer as Jesus did so we could be redeemed and healed. I have never wavered from that belief. Jesus talked about faith moving mountains. Leukemia was my mountain and I did not doubt
the Lord would move it for me. My husband and I are registered nurses and we cared for people with various cancers, including leukemia. I had a fairly good idea of what to expect, but I wouldn’t feel the full impact until later. I achieved remission, but after 18 months I relapsed. I was totally stunned. I had fully believed it was never coming back. I refused to doubt God would make me well. I had more treatment and plans proceeded for a bone marrow transplant at the UW Hospital. Two months after I had achieved a second remission, I was told the AML was back for the third time. Our doctor wanted to proceed with the transplant and things went well with some miraculous intervention. I was recovering, but 9 months after the transplant I had Graft vs. Host Disease (where the donor marrow attacks your body) in my liver which could kill me. I started on more medications in addition to the handfuls I was already taking four times a day. Within two months my liver function looked better, but the donor marrow had been so suppressed it allowed the AML to
If you think miracles only happened in Biblical times and not in our modern world, they really do happen and I am living proof. -Julie Rhyner
come back for a fourth time. This was the first time I cried in the doctor’s office. My transplant doctor told us there was still an option, one last chemotherapy which was not used for AML, but we could try it. I was ready and I refused to believe I was IN YOUR WORDS CONTINUED ON PAGE 70 >>>
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going to die. Our local oncologist met with us and shared the realities. I could have chemo and achieve another remission. I could have the chemo, not get remission and never leave the hospital. Lastly, I could opt for no treatment and to home to enjoy the last 3-4-weeks of my life. I immediately said that was not an option. He encouraged me to get my affairs in order. I still never gave in to doubt and believed I would be healed. God says “Fear not for I am with you” I had only 3 of the 5 planned doses of chemotherapy as I had extreme side effects and was moved to the ICU for 3 days. Many people did not think I would live and I had visitors who came to see me for what they thought may be the last time. Though the road has been very difficult (and the story is too long to tell here) I very slowly started to recover. Tell us about your support system and how they impacted your treatment. The Lord is my greatest support, immediately followed by my precious husband, Gary. He has been by my side every step of this journey and took care of me when I was so weak I could barely put on my own socks. He never grew tired of caring for me and encouraging me when I was struggling. I couldn’t have survived this without him. We also had so many people praying for us from our family and friends and people we have never met. Prayers are a tremendous gift. So many people did wonderful things for us like making meals and plowing our driveway in the winter, sending cards, gifts, and monetary support. Our dear friends at the O’so Brewery organized and did a huge amount of work to have a benefit for us. We can never thank them enough for their love and support! What surprised you the most while going through your cancer journey? It is hard to say I was surprised along this journey. There were things I hadn’t anticipated. But each day I faced what was happening in the moment. I never tried to think too far ahead. I think others were surprised I was never afraid and never doubted I would overcome AML. What is your current health status/prognosis? I am doing well. My endurance isn’t what it was prior to the last relapse and chemo treatment. I am back to work part time and I the 70 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
work I do and my co-workers who have been so supportive to us. I am still in remission. This November it will be three years since my last chemotherapy. Our transplant doctor told us at our last visit, it is rare that AML returns after two years. It is very, very, very, rare to return after three years and at that time he would consider me cured. Explain how your cancer diagnosis changed your outlook on life. Given my nursing experiences, I already knew to give thanks for every day and to tell everyone how I feel about them. We are not guaranteed five more minutes on this earth and we should never miss an opportunity. After this experience I feel an even greater urgency about these things. This journey is not what I would have chosen, but I tell people I am not sorry that it happened. It has changed my life and my relationship with the Lord. I have learned many things. 1.Let people help you. It can be hard to accept help or you think you are putting someone out. Those kind souls really want to bless you and it blesses them in return. 2. Patience. When I was so weak I could do almost nothing, all I could do was pray, believe, trust, and wait. 3. Be aware of God’s presence every day even in the smallest things 4. Most importantly, never give up hope. Pray without ceasing. Trust in God’s promises If you think miracles only happened in Biblical times and not in our modern world, they really do happen and I am living proof.
Here’s my story. Please feel free to post share it on your wall as you may not personally be interested or in need of improv-
ing your health, but your friends and family might be! My goal is to reach as many people as possible! So here it is and I hope it inspires you. In 1995, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism which has several effects on the body. The one thing that I struggled with the most was weight gain and fatigue. In 2006, I was diagnosed with hypertension after my father passed away. I have not been able to get my weight or blood pressure under control since. Then on January 9, 2015, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer and underwent surgery on February 12, 2015. I completed radiation treatment only to feel even more fatigue. I remember laying in my bed one day crying, seeing my health deteriorating and afraid that I would not be around to see my grandchildren graduation from high school, continue on into college, get married and have a family of their own. I had no energy to get out of bed, even after sleeping 10 hours. Prior to my diagnoses, I had been trying my best to lose weight by being as active as possible. However, I have to admit, there were times where I felt like giving up on the possibility of ever seeing my old self again. I joined Weight Watchers several times, never made lifetime membership. I also joined 3 different health clubs. I’ve tried Fitness Pal, Lose-it.com, Atkins, Slim Fast and a mountain of other diet programs. The most I have ever lost was 5 pounds. While I was going through radiation, I had asked my oncologist about my weight and what else I could do. He said based on the information that I had given him, I was doing everything that I could possibly do. His advice to me was to just keep doing what I was doing and to continue to take my medications. I was also informed that due to my surgery that I had a greater possibility of gaining even more weight which was something I didn’t want to hear. I knew that I had to do something. Then I met a woman by the name of Debbie at a Women’s Conference with my daughter, Andrea last April. We became friends on Facebook and she kept sharing her husband’s pictures. I reached out to her and asked what he was doing. She arranged for us to connect and he shared the program with me. I started the program
on June 15, 2015. As of today, I have lost nearly 50 pounds, I have been maintaining for the past 8 months and my HDL is finally in normal range. Now, I have decided to pay it forward and help others from all walks of life lose weight and take control of their health, safely and effectively without drugs or surgery. Feel free to check out my Facebook Page, look at the pictures, and read the stories. I would love to share with you what I have done to lose the weight, and learn how to keep it off. For more information, please visit my website at: www.tanyasjoberg.ichooseoptimalhealth.com
Renae, Lauren, Sam 2015 TC Marathon
RENAE LEIN SHEIBLEY
Renae and her mother, Florence Lein June 2013
Kay Aiken, Renae Lein Sheibley and Siri Bendtsen August 2015
Renae Lauren Sam Colorado August 2014
Age: Over 50 at diagnosis Residence: Portage County – Stevens Point Immediate family: Lauren, 22 (daughter) and Sam, 20 (son) My journey with Fallopian Tube/Ovarian Cancer Share initial thoughts upon diagnosis: Over a cup of coffee, a friend and I were chatting about how lucky we both had been for being healthy at the age when ailments and diseases like cancer begin to strike those we know. I distinctly remember thinking how confident I was that it well it wouldn’t be me. I was strong, health-conscious, and had done my very best to take care of myself. Little did either of us know, within a year her 40-something brother-in law would be struck with ALS and I would be diagnosed with cancer. My cancer was discovered through a routine wellness exam. I had suspected something was not quite right due to some vague, persistent symptoms but was shocked when it was confirmed as uterine cancer. I kept the information to myself thinking, if I don’t talk about it, it might it not be true. My son, Sam, was running with his team in the State High School Cross Country Meet the weekend that I heard, and I held onto the news throughout the weekend.
Only fourteen days passed between the initial phone call from my doctor on Friday, November 1, 2013, and my surgery and final diagnosis of ovarian cancer—hardly enough time to let my family and close friends in on the wild ride I was on, and for any of us to come to terms with how this would characterize the next few years. I have always referred to my cancer as my unexpected journey. It was scary to hear the news, but after coming to terms with my diagnosis, I resolved to not ask myself, why me, but rather why not me? Although the diagnosis was heavy, I realized that it would be a turning point in my life. With the support of loved ones, I felt peace in the notion that whatever happened it was going to be okay. Trials and heartbreaks are part of life. We can’t control what happens to us but we can decide how we will respond to these challenges. I viewed finding the cancer at a stage 3C versus not discovering it until it had spread throughout my body as a gift from God, and know that the time I have been granted is truly a blessing to be cherished and spent wisely and joyfully. Tell us about your support system and how they impacted your treatment. As women and mothers, we are often the givers and caretakers—being on the receiving end of care and generosity was humbling. A friend set up a meal train for our family, I had rides to chemotherapy and appointments, kind friends completed errands, and I had someone to be with me when needed. We received cards, flowers, and emails that lifted our spirits and let us know we were not alone on this journey. I was overwhelmed by the love and support I received. As I went through treatment, I was thankful that my diagnosis served as a wakeup call for family and friends. Many begun to get their health in order and scheduled the appointments they had been putting off. What surprised you the most while going through your cancer treatment? Ovarian cancer is often called the silent killer because the symptoms are vague and in 85% of the cases it is not diagnosed until the late stages, 3 or 4. The treatment has improved and some advances have been made but there needs to be more research, as it is a very difficult cancer to cure and is often treated as a chronic disease. I was surprised I knew so little about cancers that women over IN YOUR WORDS CONTINUED ON PAGE 72 >>> SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 71
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50 should be on the watch for, especially after menopause. We hear so much about breast cancer and not as much about some of the other gynecological cancers. The most surprising part of my treatment and recovery was the amount of effort I had to put into advocating for myself and seeking out support from other ovarian cancer survivors. Navigating the complexities of a disease I was unfamiliar with was easier with the help of friends and family, but was still a fair amount of work. I spent a lot of time researching what I was dealing with to equip myself to make the best decisions for my health, but really wanted to talk to someone that had gone through a similar experience. In Central Wisconsin, it proved to be challenging. Another surprise was being open to the gifts along the way. In hindsight I have said some thoughtless things to family and friends experiencing health challenges because I did not know better. Now, I know being there and listening are the greatest gifts you can give someone going through a challenge. You can’t fix it, or rationalize it or find the silver lining, all you can do it be there. Some people are not able to sit with you when you are experiencing life changing challenges and it is okay. Other people, you never expected would be in your life, will show up and help you when you need it. We all do the best we can in life and honoring another’s journey without pitying them is the best thing any of us can do to support each other. What is your current health status/ prognosis? After two years of cancer free living, I am experiencing a recurrence, which is unfortunately common with ovarian cancer. The recurrence diagnosis was in many ways much harder than the original DX because it made the cancer seem more real—I knew then it was not going away. I sought second opinions this time, did my research, and was able to get on a clinical trial. Unfortunately, the clinical trial did not produce the results we were hoping for, so now I am back on chemotherapy. My numbers have shown some improvement and I am hoping for a long remission. My doctor reminds me; we are not looking for “a cure” but are treating a chronic disease. I quickly add that we can agree to disagree. In the face of a recurrence, I am still looking for a miracle and I am a fighter. The 72 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
statistics on the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance website regarding ovarian cancer are sobering, with 1 in 72 women being at risk of developing invasive ovarian cancer and 1 in a 100 dying from it. Survival out ten years is about 39 percent and five years is 44.6 percent, depending on the stage of diagnosis. This journey has awoken in me an awareness of my body and of how important it is to listen to what it is telling you. By telling my story, I hope to encourage other women to become more aware of the symptoms and have the confidence and persistence to be heard by a health care professional should they be concerned for their health. Explain how your cancer diagnosis changed your outlook on life? First, I have been reminded, jarringly, that life is for the living. I strive to be intentional about how I invest my time, and I want to make a difference in the lives of people I love and interact with on a routine basis. I have resolved to stop putting things off, and start leaning into discomfort and uncertainty in my life. Secondly, I have a deep desire to connect with women on a similar journey with ovarian cancer, and feel responsible for ensuring that others close to me have no chance of missing symptoms and receiving the same diagnosis I have been given. We are all susceptible— I learned post-diagnosis that ovarian cancer runs in the family on my mother’s side! Women in earlier generations did not talk about such personal things, but the importance of asking these questions is incredibly high. Familial/genetic background is crucial to be aware of, as is a general knowledge of health and wellness practices that can be preventative. Many easy steps, like changing your diet, can reduce ones risk of cancer. I see potential for society to make large strides in making some of these habits mainstream and improving awareness—especially of ovarian cancer. In 2014, I attended the National Ovarian Cancer Conference in Washington, DC, to learn, make connections with other survivors, and advocate with legislators for research funding to fight this cancer. I was blown away by how much room for improvement we have in addressing this type of cancer, and by the passion many other survivors had for improving the lives of women to come, too. For better or for worse, I have found a new community that has modeled courageous living and resil-
ience—people are strong and brave. Lastly, facing cancer has prompted me to also face the reality of mortality. I want to leave something good behind, and I want to live my life in accordance with my beliefs, values, and convictions. Throughout all of this, my faith in Christ has carried me and empowered me to continually try to show others the peace I have found in Him through how I live. I realize how we are all so much more connected than we think, and finding those connections is integral to building a life filled with purpose and meaning.
Eland, WI. Photo by CJ Photography
On May 7, 2013 at age 47, I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). For a few days I had swollen painful legs, fever, night sweats and I just wanted to sleep. A visit with my family doctor Brian Smith sent me to Aspirus Wausau Hospital for further test. When I saw him walk in the ultrasound room I knew I was sicker then what I thought I was. He talked to me about my white blood count and told me to call my husband and sons, and they need to come to the hospital. I said to him, I’m not going home am I, he said no, Dr. Rezazadeh wants you admitted now! I knew Dr. Rezazadeh is a cancer doctor and I did not want to be his next patient! Who would ever want to say I have an Oncologist doctor? Working as a hairdresser, I have clients that have him, so I knew I was in good hands. But I was scared as hell!! Waiting for my family to get to the hospital was the hardest part. My husband Jim was the first to be there. I said to Jim, I think I have leukemia. The look on his face I will never forget. He said, why would you say that? Why, my blood count is 17 thousand times more then what they
should be, I’m in the oncology department and Dr. Rezazadeh is on his way in here, so be prepared when he walks in here. My sons Josh and Jordan were in the room when the doctor said the word leukemia. Within seconds my life had a big boom. I was told this, you will stay in the hospital for 30 days, a bone marrow test will be done in the morning, wait for those results and start chemo on Friday. My first thought was, he is absolutely crazy if he thinks I’m going to stay in here for 30 days. As Jordan says, she’s not going to make it, the doctor said no she is going to be fine. My sweet little Jordan says, yes I know but she’s going to drive you all crazy!! Yes, I have a hard time sitting still and I hardly ever was in my room, I walked as much as I could inside and outside threw my whole 7 months while I had to be in the hospital, why sit there and feel sorry for yourself! Well, I showed my doctor I got to go home on my mother’s Birthday June 4. During my stay I had a caretaker ask me why I didn’t cry when I was told I had leukemia. My children lost their dad in May 2006, I don’t want them
to lose their mom in May 2013! My answer silenced her. Chemo started four days later, I felt like it was poured in my. There was times I don’t remember but I think that was a good thing. I was getting the chemo called red devil. Jim said, and it was red. Within a few days my hair was falling out in clumps just like you see in the movies. That didn’t bother me as much as when my eye lash and eye brows fell out, I felt naked without them and I told Jim not to visit, but he was there every day. On May 14 I was so sick, I hit rock bottom and I wanted to die. I was at peace with it and I was ready, but standing by my bed was my mother-in-law, she kept telling me to get up you can do this, you have to do this, come on you can do this. I looked at Jim and asked him to stay overnight with me because I thought that I was going with his mom. Jim’s mom Alice passed away on Sept.14, 2012 in the same hospital I was in. In the morning there was Jim, I thought to myself, I can’t tell him why I wanted him to stay, but still till this day I never felt something so real and I believe still that it is. Three weeks into journey I
Life is so short stop living in a box and love life, be real and true to yourself. -Jan Steebs
started with a cough, pain in my ribs and very hard to breath. A cat scan showed I had Aspergillos Pneumonia, a fungal infection. I was treated with heavy antibiotics threw my pick line that whereas hard on me as the chemo. I had to stay on them for a couple of months. The day I got to go home I was scared but ready. With AML the treatments is, in 28 days I had to go back to the IN YOUR WORDS CONTINUED ON PAGE 74 >>>
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hospital for a 5 day in treatment stay. I had chemo at 10:30a.m until 2:30p.m and again at 10:30p.m until 2:30a.m.. Three days of chemo out of five kicks your butt. Then the next three weeks, three days a week you going to the cancer clinic and have blood test if your counts are low you have to stay and get blood and platelets. My first time to the clinic, I walked in and saw so many sick people, I was going to walk back to my car and leave, I was very scared to be there, there was so many people there that were sick with cancer and I just didn’t think I belonged there! But with time you get to know each other and we all are there for the same reason, to live. My last chemo was for October, on September 10 I ended up with an infection and had to stay 10 days in the hospital, that was a hard one. My chemo was sit back to November and I will never forget my last drop of chemo 11-05-2016 when nurse Jess came in my room at 2:30 a.m. to remove my last bag of chemo is a date I will never forget. Threw my journey of cancer there was times I exploded, it drains you physically and mentally, I just wanted my normal life back! It is wonderful that people wanted to be there for me but at times it was too much for me. I felt like a couldn’t get on with my life, it’s amazing when you get sick how many people want to be an emotional leech from your illness. I remembered what my doctor told me one day, this is about YOU, so that’s what I remember. I didn’t have visitors when I was in the hospital except my family, with chemo one time you feel good then the next minute you’re not, besides I had no immune system. When I was in the hospital all of the workers that I had contact with we’re outstanding. The oncology team at Aspirus are my heroes, the love, compassion, comfort and laughter that they gave me I will always have you in my heart. I never thought a hospital stay would have you laughing so hard you cry!!! But you all know I was your best patient! I have learned so much about leukemia and life. Why is it that chemo gets a bad name? It’s the cancer that is the bad guy. Chemo is my friend, chemo, the staff and all my doctors that I had saved my life! It’s been three years, I am in remission and doing great. I do have something’s that are not the same but I accept that, I wake about four times a 74 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
night and think wow I really did have cancer and in the day it’s always there. My doctor told me I feel like this because I didn’t let cancer take me over. I did say I didn’t want to meet Dr. Rezazadeh because he is a cancer doctor, but Jim and I have to say he is pretty cool! People ask me if I know how or why I got cancer. I guess I was the next one in line. The other reason, my husband, a close friend, God and I know. For years I have been saying a prayer and when I was told I have cancer I became more of a believer! I’m just going to say be careful what you pray and wish for! And if you have not yet watched the movie Miracles from Heaven you should. Life is so short stop living in a box and love life, be real and true to yourself. Thanks to my husband Jim, my sons Jordan and Joshua and his wife Pam and my niece Calee and Alissa for all you do for me, you saved me!!
DARLENE E. THODE
TO HELP OTHERS My husband, Dick, was in the hospital with an irregular heartbeat in April, 1989. That was taken care of with medication. I was helping him to get dressed to go home when I noticed that he had quite a large mole on his back and it looked like it needed to be examined. The doctor agreed and took a biopsy of it. The diagnosis was melanoma cancer! Radical surgery left a 14 inch scar and gladly forgotten misery. The melanoma showed up in the muscle of his right arm in June of 1990. The entire muscle had to be removed. Regular checkups followed with a very thorough surgeon. Biopsies were taken and were found to be nonmalignant. In June of 1998, the surgeon examined a medium sized mole below my husband’s left rib cage. The doctor ordered a biopsy of the mole for the next morning at the hospital. That morning, Dick walked up to our mailbox to get the paper. He came back quickly and pounded on the kitchen door. He hollered that something had stung him. He lifted up his sweatshirt and out fell a large black wasp. I stomped on it and wrapped it in a tissue to take along to the hospital because nobody was going to believe it but
the mole was gone! We went to the hospital to have a mole removed that wasn’t there – sure! The surgeon said that he had seen the mole the prior day and he ordered a biopsy of the area that the mole had been. The results came back and showed no malignancy but it contained wasp venom. How that wasp found the mole under his sweatshirt, only God knows! Melanoma cancer has not returned on my husband – THANK GOD and THE WASP. Each time an opportunity arose to tell anyone about the wasp sting, it seemed to leave little impression with anyone. One day we were at the home of our dear friends, Nancy and Marv. I was again telling the wasp tale. Nancy got an astonished look on her face and said, “I got stung by a wasp, too!” She had endured a long bout with melanoma cancer and it had been a painful, miserable experience. It was diagnosed on her in September 2001. It began with a pencil eraser sized pinkish lump on her upper left leg. The growth was removed and biopsied. It was melanoma cancer. The doctor tested and found it necessary to remove all of the lymph nodes in her groin area. Interferon was used and a drainage tube was put in place until February 2002. Then the tube was removed. She then had to give herself shots for 30 weeks. Upon further exams, three tumors were discovered – one was removed but two were inoperable because they were attached to an aorta. Three times she was in intensive care and treated with the severe medication Interlocken. It was intolerable for her and she could not stand all of her bodily functions being halted. She would not, understandable, take anymore treatments! She was at her home, at the kitchen table, when she saw the large black wasp on the table. She swatted at it and it flew back at her and it stung the palm of her right hand. She quickly took a Benadryl tablet because she was afraid of having an allergic reaction to the sting. Her next examination along with CT scans showed no tumors remaining! No recurrence of melanoma cancer has been evident!
The wasp sting must have eliminated the melanoma cancer. THANK GOD! Hopefully, some person or foundation with enable research to be done for a useful cure of melanoma cancer. My husband, Richard Thode has fought melanoma cancer and overcame it. I have supported him all the way. We have three daughters, eight grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren. 64 years married. Richard was diagnosed with melanoma cancer in April 1989. He was in Waukesha Memorial Hospital in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He had been treated for an irregular heartbeat. The news of the diagnosis brought shock and sadness to the entire family. Even our family physician had tears in his eyes when he told us about it. The mole was removed and biopsied. A drainage tube was inserted into the incision which had to be cleaned and drained then later removed. Shortly after that the muscle in his right arm was removed due to melanoma.
The “miracle year” was 1998. Richard never had melanoma cancer after the wasp incident. In 2002 he had a bladder tumor which was successfully treated through chemotherapy. Richard now has dementia, is 85 and is residing in an assisted living facility. He receives excellent care and seems content. Since the two person’s experiences with wasps, melanoma cancer has not returned for either sufferer. They both have had other age related problems, some severe but both have met their challenges and are moving on. Nancy has had several surgeries related to rheumatism and heart but she is able to enjoy her free time.
MARY JACQUELINE WRIGHT Age: 70 City of Residence: Wisconsin Rapids Family: Husband of 49+ years, daughter, son
I believe it helps to have a sense of humor when dealing with serious issues. -Mary Jacqueline Wright
Diagnosed: 1997 Cancer: Breast I was in my hospital room after the first surgery when the surgeon and a nurse entered. One stood on my left side and the other on my right. Thinking I was asleep they started to leave until I opened my IN YOUR WORDS CONTINUED ON PAGE 76 >>>
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eyes and said, “Hi”. The surgeon turned and very solemnly said, “The tumor in my left breast was cancer. I am so sorry”. He asked if he could do anything and I said, “I don’t think so”. After they left my room I thought to myself ‘I have been told that 1 out of 4 people get breast cancer. I’m the best person in my immediate family of 4 to handle it.’ I never, never said, “Why me”? My support system was mostly my husband, Bob. The church did a lot of praying and a few friends brought food so Bob didn’t have so much to do. My two children were grown and on their own at that time. Bob was amazing through it all. When I wasn’t able to cook or do laundry due to the chemo or radiation, he did both when he came home from teaching all day. I had 4 chemo treatments, each taking 5 – 6 hours. They happened once a month on a Monday. Bob brought me and picked me up 3 out of the 4 times due to his teaching hours. I had a girlfriend take over when he wasn’t able. I went to work on Tuesdays, but Wednesdays were my really bad days. I couldn’t get out of bed. Before he left for work, Bob put our 11 year old Dachshund, Snuggles, into bed with me. She stayed by my side all day until Bob returned home. (Little did we know how appropriately that puppy was named.) Going through 2 surgeries, chemo, and 35 radiation treatments doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. I actually had some fun with it. Before my hair started to fall out I ordered 3 wigs: 1 styled as I wore my natural red hair, 1 short blonde wig, and 1 long, straight hair brunette wig. Bob didn’t know if he was coming home to a blonde, brunette, or redhead. One Sunday I wore the long brunette wig to church. The only one who knew it was me was my minister. Everyone else thought that Bob was with one of my sisters. As I was leaving the sanctuary, my minister leaned over and said, “Boy, does your hair grow quickly”. The day before my son’s wedding (I was the soloist), my future daughter-in-law, one of her cousins, and me were shopping in a craft store that also carried fabrics. Amy was looking for toile to finish her veil when the conversation turned toward hair dos. After some discussion, I said, “If you want to 76 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
know how my hair will look, it’s in the trunk of my car in a hat box”. We were laughing so hard, we couldn’t stand up right. (To this day we still laugh about it.) I believe it helps to have a sense of humor when dealing with serious issues. (I have more stories.) It has been 19 ½ years since the diagnosis. After the chemo and radiation treatments were over, I have been diagnosed Cancer Free! I never thought once that I would die from this. I attribute that to my belief in God and the power of prayer.
ROBERT AUSTIN WRIGHT
Age: 72 City: Wisconsin Rapids Family: Same as Mary’s Diagnosed: 1997 Cancer: Breast My initial thought was that the diagnosis was wrong. That didn’t happen. I never thought that Mary would die from this. I trusted the medical doctors to do what was right for her. When the first operation was only 2 days after her mammogram, I thought that that was great. (The 2nd operation was the next day to remove all of her lymph nodes on her left side.) While Mary was going through radiation in a city 45 miles away, church members stepped up and took her every weekday for 7 weeks. I was unable to do this because I was a teacher and couldn’t take the time off. (I was really concerned about the travel and knew Mary would be too tired after the treatment to drive safely home.) During her chemo treatments, I was able to take her and bring her home 3 out of the 4 treatments. One of her girlfriends took over the 1 time I couldn’t. What surprised me the most while going through this journey was the fact that Mary lost ALL of her hair. I never thought that she would die, as I said earlier. I knew the next couple of years would be challenging as she recovered from it all. Mary tired easily so I knew my free time would be devoted to her to make sure she got the proper care and treatment needed for a diagnosis of cancer free.
Photos by Marie Walkowski
By Sarah Walker This is your “TOTE OF HOPE”! Totes of Hope for Breast Cancer started in 2014 by a woman who was in her mid30’s and diagnosed with Breast Cancer. There was no family history, she was quite healthy, and took care of herself. Through the shock and the journey of it all, this foundation came about. It was her way to let others know that in this darkest moment, THERE IS HOPE!
This tote contains what was decided to be necessary for mental survival throughout this journey you are now on. A tote was carried from day 1 by the founder, and she still uses today! Items you will find inside: a calendar to keep track of appointments, a blanket to keep you warm (chemo treatments tend to give you the chills and radiation can make you feel cold toward “normal” temperatures), a soft hat to keep your head warm if you lose your hair, and a few other items thrown in just for fun. Enjoy your tote, good luck and prayers are coming your way! “WELCOME TO THE CLUB!!!” True, this is a club you had wished you would never be a part of. The Breast Cancer Club. You have been handed some heavy news. You will be flooded with information, tests and choices in the next couple of weeks. Take a moment. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. And tell yourself, “I will make it through this!” Then have your pity party. Cry. Scream. Shout. Call your loved ones. Let them know you were handed the information and that you will keep them updated. Then, take your own time. Even if you have some information, don’t feel as if you need to give it out yet. Information will change and not everyone deals with it well. This is a little story about me, how I handled things and a few tips that I have learned through the whole journey. Each journey is unique. What I chose worked well for me, it may not work well for you, it may not work as well for anyone else, but the point is, it was my choice on what to do. I will say the doctors gave me the information and strongly suggested some things, but in the end it was my choice. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the choices you have in front of you. Don’t even be afraid to get a second opinion. I know it all sounds scary and overwhelming. Here are a few tips: 1 – Read. Read about Breast Cancer, read fiction, read non-fiction. Whatever you find interesting, just read!!! Cancer books that I suggest…#1 – Nordie’s at Noon. It is a great book written by 4 women who were all diagnosed with Breast Cancer before they were 30. It made me laugh, it made me cry, but most of all it gave me hope and inspiration. #2 - Susan Love’s Guide to IN YOUR WORDS CONTINUED ON PAGE 78 >>>
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SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 77
you in your words True, this is a club you had wished you would never be a part of. The Breast Cancer Club. You have been handed some heavy news. You will be flooded with information, tests and choices in the next couple of weeks. Take a moment. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. And tell yourself, “I will make it through this!” Then have your pity party. Cry. Scream. Shout. Call your loved ones. Let them know you were handed the information and that you will keep them updated. Then, take your own time. Even if you have some information, don’t feel as if you need to give it out yet. Information will change and not everyone deals with it well. This is a little story about me, how I handled things and a few tips that I have learned through the whole journey. -Sara Walker
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Breast Cancer. I never actually read it but it is suggested by everyone. Give it a try. #3 – Any other book you think might sound like it fits you, your journey or your personality! 2 – Don’t worry. Take every day as it comes and just put one foot in front of the next. You have temporarily lost control and have been betrayed by your body. It sucks, but it is what it is and you will gain that control back! 3 – Write it down. Write down everything. Appointments (who, where, when, what it is for, etc.), how you feel, what you are being told, test results, etc. By writing it down, to me I didn’t feel overwhelmed anymore. I felt I had a little bit more control. Plus, if there are any insurance questions, you now have the information in front of you to get it taken care of. And as a bonus, when you have to turn information in at the end of the year for taxes, you have all the medical information in one place! Take note of how many miles it is from your house to each appointment – you WILL need this come tax time! 4 – Live your life. Just because you have cancer doesn’t mean that life stops… though wouldn’t it be nice! Even if you feel like crap, and there WILL be days you will feel like crap, do something, anything! No matter how little, it will make a difference at the end. You will feel more empowered by it. My Story Hello. My name is Sarah Walker – note – I am not a writer, so please excuse me for any poor grammar and sentence structure! I was diagnosed on February 25, 2014 with Stage 2BN DCIS Breast Cancer. I was 36 years old, married with 2 children, ages 5 and 7. It really all began Saturday October 19, 2013 after I ran my first 5K! I had made the whole thing and my son ran it with me. When I finally had the energy to shower that evening, I noticed what I call the miniTootsie Roll type mass in my right breast that just didn’t feel quite right. Since I had scared myself for no reason in the past, I asked my husband if he could see anything “different” without giving him a clue as to where to look. He pointed right to the same area. I asked him then if he felt what I felt, and he did. At that point I said that I would call and make an appointment on Monday
to see my OB about it. My OB was not available but I could get in to see someone else on Tuesday afternoon, I took it. My husband went with me. The doctor asked me about it, felt it for himself and asked me some family history questions, etc. He assured me that it was just a fibroid cyst and that I had nothing to worry about. It would probably go away on its own or at least get smaller. However, if I felt that it needed to be looked into more I had 3 options. One, I could make an appointment with a general surgeon to have a biopsy done. Two, I could have a mammogram and/or ultrasound done to see if anything was detected, and then have a biopsy done. Three, wait for 3 months, make an appointment with my regular doctor and keep an eye on it. Since there is NO family history anywhere for me of breast cancer (there are hardly any cases of ANY type of cancer, which in my large family is odd all on its own). I decided that he was right; it was a fibroid cyst that was nothing to worry about. I made an appointment with my doctor at 3 months and if it went away I could cancel, but if it stayed or got bigger, then she could make suggestions at that time. Three months passed, the Tootsie didn’t go away. I can’t remember now if I noticed that it truly got significantly bigger, but maybe a little. I did notice that it seemed “thicker”, but thought that might be in my head. I went in to my normal doctor, she took some measurements (which was not done the first time), talked to me more about symptoms (real or not), changes in sleep, and many more things. She requested a mammogram and an ultrasound. She stated that if the radiologist doing reading the imagery thought anything was wrong they would do a biopsy right away. Wednesday, January 29, 2014, I went in for the mammogram and ultrasound. The tech seemed a little concerned, but I know that they aren’t allowed to say anything. It was the same during the ultrasound. Afterward the radiologist came in, made some small talk, and said that I had nothing to worry about. I had very dense breast tissue, but the mass looked like a fibrous cyst and to just keep an eye on it. Relieved, I got dressed and went home since I had taken a half day of vacation, I didn’t have to worry about going back to work.
On Thursday, I received a call from my doctor’s office, urging me to still see a surgeon and have a biopsy done. I consented to see one, but all I thought in my head was, “Seriously! Everyone has now said that it is a cyst, and that there’s nothing to worry about! Why can’t you leave me alone?!” I went to the appointment on February 5th. The surgeon also believed it to be a fibrous cyst, but because I was in the middle of my cycle he asked that I come back in 2 weeks to re-evaluate it. So, February 20th, I went again to see the surgeon. There had been no change, and he asked me what I wanted to do. Being tired of the questions of what it was or wasn’t I said I wanted to do a biopsy. My thought was, “Let’s prove it’s nothing and move on!” Wow, were we all wrong! Less than a week later and that call came in. I only told those closest to me first; my co-workers (since I was at work and they were wondering why I suddenly had tears in my eyes), my husband, my mom, my brother, and my dad. I listened to what they all had to say that night. Some cried, some
consoled me, some plain old told me that I had nothing to worry about! I took in the stats they gave me, the stories they told and I let them know that I would update them as soon as I had more information. That night I went to bed early (I didn’t even tell my kids) and cried myself to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, it was still dark out (since it was only 5:30 am), but I could see that the sky was clear and it was going to be a sunny day. I told myself right then and there that I was going to deal with this like any other “illness” and just deal with it. I wasn’t going to call it cancer yet (that was too scary). That today was a new day, God had allowed me to wake up and start it again. And I will say, I did lean on my faith A LOT! I felt right there in those first moments of the day that there must be a reason that God brought this to me and that even if it took the rest of my life, I would figure out what that reason was. But what I was not going to do was sit in pity from that point on! I went to work in the morning, let anyone know who I hadn’t told the day before, and
in the afternoon I then met my husband at the surgeon’s office. I listened to everything that he had to say, listened to the options that he gave me and tried to take it all in. I tried my best to listen to what he was actually saying. He then let me know which Oncologist would take my case. He gave me information about them and names of people who would be contacting me to answer any other questions. I took it all. Any literature he would give me and tried to make some choices right away about how this journey was going to go. After a barrage of appointments, doctors, blood tests and different types of scans the next month went by in a blur. With my tote by my side, gathering all the paperwork, results and information that I could get my hands on, I kept moving forward. I figured if I could take it one appointment at a time, listen to what was presented at each appointment and store that information I would make it through. I was presented with all the options of what could be done. I chose to do the “Neoadjuvent ChemotherIN YOUR WORDS CONTINUED ON PAGE 80 >>>
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apy.” This is the chemo before the tumor is removed in hopes to shrink significantly or remove it chemically. Before I could even do that, they needed to pinpoint how far the cancer had spread and what hormones it was positive for. To break down that diagnosis, DCIS Invasive is the “type” of cancer that I have, 2BN is the stage and how far it had “spread”, meaning the size was more than 5cm in size and it had gone into my lymph nodes. It is also Estrogen and Progesterone positive, but HER 2 negative. I also did the test to see if I was positive for the BRCA gene (this is the gene that Angelina Jolie was infamous for finding out she had and did her double mastectomy). Take whatever test that your insurance will pay for! I am negative for the BRCA gene, which is a relief, but still decided that when the chemo was done I also was going to do the double mastectomy. Does that increase my chances for it coming back? No, not really. But why not, the possible 2% - 3% that I gain for odds that I won’t get it back to me was worth it. I started chemo exactly 1 month from the day I was first called with the diagnosis. March 25, 2014 I was plugged in and the meds started. There would be 4 rounds of the first chemo drugs every two weeks. These included “the Red Devil” and “the bag” as I called them. I have it written somewhere what they are actually called, but no one cares nor remembers so this is the easiest way to describe them! During this time I also met with the plastic surgeon to discuss options on what I could do for reconstruction. I also kept doing as much of everything that was “normal” as possible. I worked as much as I could around appointments and treatments. I refused to let this disease define me. I felt I wanted to be a definition of what it means to have cancer. I got into the rhythm of the ups and downs of it all. My hair started falling out just as I was going in for treatment #2. I had already decided that if I did lose my hair that I didn’t want to do wigs. I was going to “own” whatever look I was handed and use it as motivation for keeping me going. Being bald was not scary or hard for me, watching my hair fall out was hard. Having globs of it left behind was hard on me. So, I got my kids 80 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
together with my mom (whom I had to kick in the butt to “put on her big girl panties and help out and not be a wuss) and Grandma and shaved it off. The little stubbles falling off didn’t faze me at all. I had more pride after that. It was one more thing that I had control over. Not everyone will feel that way around you. Not all will accept and feel comfortable with you being bald. It will be harder on some family members more than others. My daughter, who is younger, loved it but my son had a hard time when his friends would comment on it. My mom also had a hard time, but my dad shaved his head too. Those chemo treatments went through till early May. May 21st I started chemo drug #2, “the Bone Crusher”. I did a 5K run that following weekend, I won’t say I actually ran much of it, but the point was that I attempted! Again, I didn’t want cancer to define me. I had more issues with the pre-chemo meds during this second set of chemo treatments than the chemo itself. However, I was not just tired, but bones literally felt like they were being squeezed during this treatment. My last chemo was July 1st. And for the Fourth of July holiday, I went waterskiing! It was my only opportunity to do it that year and I wasn’t going to miss it! I didn’t go far, but I went! My mastectomy was scheduled for August 6, 2014. I had some more tests that I had to do to make sure that I was “healthy” enough for surgery. Since all tests came back good, in I went! One thing I will say quickly, before going in to surgery, it had now been over a month since my last chemo. I had very fine hair growing, but to me it looked very weak but it was extremely soft! This IS good hair – DON”T SHAVE IT OFF! I had shaved it thinking it wasn’t healthy and that it would help to get it out of the way for healthy hair to grow. No one said anything different, I wish they would have, I would have been 4 weeks further along with hair growth than I was! And yes, you will lose the eye brows, eye lashes and ALL hair on your body – yes I do mean ALL hair on your body, even the stuff “down there”. Don’t worry, it comes back…and yes, unfortunately it ALL comes back! I didn’t mind not having to shave my legs or my underarms! You will save a TON in shampoo and time in the shower during all of it! Take any advantage you can right
now! With the crappy cards you were dealt, you deserve it! Anyway, back to the mastectomy. Watch any video or ask opinions from every one you can who has done it before making your decision. Be prepared that it will not be “easy” and each person has to make their own choices. It will most likely not just be a single surgery either, especially if you want reconstruction at the same time. You will be presented with more choices and information that you never thought in your life you would have to think about – what size implants, what type, nipples or no nipples… yup you will have to think about those things! The mastectomy was not fun. It hurt. And the expanders that we put in so that I could have breast about the same size as before were even less fun. They are hard, they are painful and they are NOT comfortable! I will tell you also, take all physical therapy you are offered and the insurance will pay for. I don’t think I would have made it through without it. It helps to regain movement and gives you a little bit more of a feeling of being normal. I am happy with my decision now, would I do it differently had I known the pain I would have…I’m not sure. Some days I am sure I would, other days I think that I would have left it flat and used it as my new “badge of honor”. But that seems scary to me too. August 20, 2014, I went back to see my surgeon for a “wound check” on the incisions of the mastectomy. He is the one that was able to give me the good news that the chemo had worked as they had hoped and all tissue samples sent to pathology from the surgery came back “free of all carcinoma”. Six months from the day that the first biopsy was taken, I was now considered “cancer free”. Of course, there is no such thing as “cancer free”. It may temporarily be out of your body, or not found in your body, but there is ALWAYS the chance that it comes back. Which keeps it on your mind at all times. I try not to think about it and until something gives me a reason to think it has come back, I refuse to worry over it. But it is always there, real or not. Feeling “normal” will never be the same. Get rid of the idea that you can go back to being how you were before cancer. There is no such thing! If you can’t let go of that idea, you will have a hard time. You have to
know that there WILL be a new “normal”. Your new normal is set by you, but as much as I hate to admit it, it is also set by cancer. You are now a part of the Breast Cancer Club, whether you want to be or not! I used humor and faith as my guides during my journey. But I relied on family, friends and God to get me through it all. If you are having a bad day, it is okay!!! Have a bad day, no one can tell you it is wrong!! Another tip is to just make sure you don’t let those bad days take over the good ones. Fight! Fight to see a new normal. Be an advocate; make sure everyone you know is aware that it can happen to them. They say 1 in 5 women in our lifetime will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I look at my daughter and my nieces, I hope that I am that 1 in those 5 (actually 6) that gets it and they are spared. I hope that in my circle of friends, that I am the 1 in those 5 that gets it so that they are spared. I hope that you keep HOPE. That is what this tote is for. Hope. There are many groups in our area that you can join
if you want to. Or if you just want to just remind yourself that you are not alone, you can call or email me. I am here and I WAS there in your shoes. There is something to be said to talking to someone who knows what you are going through, that has gone through it too. Others will try to tell you that they understand, they had a sister, mother, grandmother, friend, etc. that went through it. They don’t understand, not truly. Unless you walked that path, one does not fully understand. Don’t take their comments to heart; know that they are just trying to help. Take care of yourself; you are in my prayers and thoughts. If you need me, let me know! Sincerely, Sarah M. Walker – Founder, Totes of Hope for Breast Cancer. email@example.com 1-715-379-9405 www.breastcancer-totesofhope.org
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Cancer Patients Suffer Through Futile Treatments BY MARINA HUTCHINSON, ASSOCIATED PRESS
New research being released at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual meeting in Chicago suggests three out of four cancer patients younger than 65 get aggressive treatment during their last month of life. (June 6) AP Two year old Mira listens to recordings her Dad, Joe Clark, made for her when he knew he was dying from color cancer. “He was told he was stage 4 when we were just a month pregnant so everything about that became about making it to the day that she was born,“ said his widow Amanda Evans Clark. Clark started chemotherapy in 2011 and stopped treatment in September of 2014. His widow Amanda says when to stop was the hardest decision. He died two months later when Mira was 11
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months old. “He looked at me and he said you know, she’s a baby and I’d almost rather her not remember this and not remember me than her be four or five and have to lose her Dad,” Amanda said. Medical guidelines advise against harsh, painful treatment like chemo and radiation for dying cancer patients. But new research suggests three out of four patients younger than 65 get aggressive treatment in the last 30 days before dying. “The overuse of aggressive care at the very end of life in cancer patients is recognized as one of the most important issues in all of oncology,“ said Dr. Ronald Chen, a UNC oncologist. Experts say that dying patients should get comfort care instead. One of the
reasons patients keep fighting is that they don’t feel like they are at the end of their life. “There are times when we are faced with patients who are begging us not to give up on them,“ said Dr. Monica Malec, the palliative care specialist at the University of Chicago. Amanda Clark believes her husband would have stopped treatment sooner but felt an obligation to fight for his family’s sake. “I often wondered if he wished he hadn’t done it because of all that he had to go through,“ said Amanda. Now the memories of his suffering are replaced with the soothing sounds of his voice comforting his daughter.
Cancer Patients To Be Matched With Watson Program MARK JOHNSON, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL Froedtert Hospital & the Medical College of Wisconsin will announce an agreement with IBM Thursday that will make the medical center only the second in the country to use a new high-speed computer program called Watson that matches cancer patients with the most appropriate clinical trials in a matter of minutes.
cancer patients last year and participated in about 220 cancer clinical trials.
Today, with trials becoming more complex and more widespread, the matching process can be cumbersome, taking up to a week or two and contributing to the slow the pace of research. Studies are often delayed because not enough patients have been recruited.
Right now the Mayo Clinic is the only institution using Watson to match cancer patients and clinical trials.
“This will allow more patients to take part in clinical trials so that clinical trials get done faster,” said James Thomas, medical director of the Froedtert & MCW Clinical Trials Office. “The sooner trials get done, the sooner we answer the questions: what things work, what things don’t work.” While some studies must wait to recruit enough participants, the vast majority of patients both here and nationally never end up in a trial. At present, only 4% to 5% of cancer patients ever enter a clinical trial, even though an estimated 20 percent would be eligible for one trial or another. About 15 percent of Froedtert’s cancer patients end up in treatment trials. “We’re looking to change that dynamic to close that gap,” IBM Watson Vice President Clayton Henke said. Watson, which took IBM a decade to
In the coming weeks, Froedtert and the Medical College will be training staff in the new system and integrating their electronic medical records. “We want to go live with this in the fall of this year,” Thomas said.
develop, contains a large cross section of papers from medical and scientific journals, “millions and millions of pages, which Watson reads very quickly,” Henke said. The system has been programmed to read and understand medical terminology and information from patient charts. In practice, a doctor at Froedtert will be able to look up a patient’s medical records, and with a few key strokes ask the computer to seek out the best clinical trials for that patient. Within minutes the computer will sift through the complex requirements for thousands of clinical trials and recommend a few, listing specific strengths and weaknesses of each one. The addition of Watson could effect thousands of cancer patients in southeastern Wisconsin. Froedtert and the other hospitals that are part of its cancer network, St. Joseph’s in Washington County and Community Memorial in Menomonee Falls, saw about 5,600 new
However, the computer system has already been put to use on a different task by about 15 academic medical centers. These institutions are using Watson to analyze the precise genetic makeup of patient tumors. Cancer scientists have been suggesting for years that knowing the genetic makeup of a tumor will help to overcome the generally poor success rates of many cancer treatments. The Watson system has been designed for uses beyond medicine such as education and a variety of industries including insurance, financial services, chemical products and petroleum. Anywhere large computer systems store massive amounts of sensitive information, security breaches will always be a concern, but Henke said the Watson system has multiple levels of security and has been designed to comply with the HIPAA medical privacy laws. Thomas stressed that the medical records of Froedtert patients will be secured behind a firewall, accessible only to their doctors. SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 83
Jared Lindwall ran the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey this year two years after brain surgery (Photo: Jim Krajewski)
Two years after brain surgery, Lindwall runs in RTO JIM KRAJEWSKI , JKRAJEWSKI@RGJ.COM Two years ago, Jared Lindwall was running in the half marathon in Reno when he felt an odd sensation in his head. Those sensations quickly turned into migraines, and pressure built up in his skull. After a trip to the emergency room, then to a neurosurgeon, Lindwall was given a grim diagnosis. He had a deadly form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma multiforme and was given 14 months to live. He had brain surgery four days after the diagnosis. Saturday, Lindwall was part of the “No Reward Is Worth This” team that 84 | YOU | SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016
completed the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey, a 178-mile relay race. Running is a passion for Lindwall. “To be in this position after going through surgery, radiation, a full year of chemotherapy, yeah,” Lindwall, from Reno, said. He is not considered completely healed and said there is no full medical cure for GBM. “I’m not going to let that bring me down and I’m going to figure out a way to heal from this,” he said. “Because I think our minds and bodies are incredible things.”
He uses holistic methods, as well as exercise, diet, acupuncture and meditation to help his body heal. He started running again three weeks after his first surgery and slowly built up his health. The 41-year-old also had the goal to see his son’s fifth birthday, which was two days after his surgery. He is raising money through the My Hometown Heroes non-profit organization to help give a scholarship to a young adult cancer survivor. He raised $2,100 for that cause by running in the RTO.
Restaurants Offer Healthy Menu Options! BY SARAH SALEWSKI Wood County eating establishments are now joining with a growing number of organizations to promote healthy food choices within our community. The Smart Meal™ program was developed to help establishments promote healthy meal options while allowing customers an easy way to identify healthy menu items. The program highlights restaurant meals that are lower in fat, lower in sodium and include components such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains while being 700 calories or less. Eating establishments use the Smart Meal icon on their menu to identify meal options that meet the Smart Meal nutritional requirements. The icons are also dis-
played on the front entrance doors of restaurants that are involved with the Smart Meal program. Kids menu items can also be identified in the Smart Meal program following the kids nutrition and calorie requirements. The Smart Meal™ program was started by the Colorado Physical Activity and Nutrition Program (CPANP) and was available to Wisconsin restaurants starting in 2011. The new program will be rolled out in multiple phases with the initiative to reach all Wood County food establishments. Wood County restaurants participating in phase one include: Shaw Lee’s, Patty’s Café, Anchor Bay,
Sportsman’s Pub, Higher Grounds Bakery and Coffee House, Jennings, Belvedere Supper Club, Melody Gardens, Blue Heron, Nutz Deep and Daily Grind. Nutrition staff is available to help identify menu items that fit within the nutrition and calorie criteria and can assist with minor menu adjustments or healthy menu creation. To be considered a Smart Meal™ restaurant you must have four qualifying menu items. For more information on the Smart Meal™ Program in Wood County please contact Melanie Jaecks: (715)421-8961 email@example.com
Smart Meal™ Nutritional Requirements • • • • • •
Two servings or more servings of beans, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, or low-fat/non-fat dairy 700 calories or less No more than 30 percent of calories from total fat (or 23 grams or less) No more than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat (or 8 grams or less) No more than 0.5 grams of trans fat (no added or artificial trans fat) No more than 1,500 mg of sodium SPECIAL EDITION OCTOBER 2016 | YOU | 85
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Recipe makeover BY JANET LASKA
CHICKEN WILD RICE SOUP
ORIGINAL RECIPE In a large sauce pan melt ½ cup butter then add the following chopped veggies: 1 cup onion, 1 cup celery and 1 cup carrots. Sauté for 5 minutes. Next gradually stir in ¾ - 1 cup flour to thicken and then add 6 1/2 cups chicken broth. Bring to a slow boil and let simmer for a little while. Add 2 cups wild rice, 2 cooked and cubed boneless skinless chicken breasts, salt and pepper to taste, fresh parsley, and 1 cup half and half. You can add additional liquid to your liking. Simmer for 1 – 2 hours. Do not boil. Approximately 4 servings TRANSFORMED RECIPE SLOW COOKER RECIPE Ingredients: 1 onion, chopped 3 carrots, peeled and chopped 3 stalks celery, chopped 1 cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed and drained 2 bay leaves 1 tsp. dried thyme 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley Salt and pepper to taste 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts 10 cups low sodium chicken broth Combine onion, carrots, celery, wild rice, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper in a large crock pot. Top with chicken breasts and add the chicken broth. Cook on low for 7 - 8 hours or on high for approximately 4 hours. Serve with warm sour dough bread. Approximately 8 servings. Enjoy! This is a hearty soup and will make your tummy happy!
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SCENE 1. Participants making a difference in the Relay For Life.
2 & 3. Pretty in Pink. This year’s event will
be October 22, 2016 from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
4 & 5. Participants for the Susan G Komen race for the cure.
6. UW-Stevens Point Pink Street Event. 7. All Smiles During The Will Maki Fundraiser. 8. Walkers Start The Course To Help Find A Cure.
9. Participants entering a raffle to help find a cure.
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Life brings uncertainty. We offer hope.
When cancer strikes, you need hope. That’s why Marshfield Clinic offers complete care— including cancer specialists, research aimed at discovering new treatments and support services such as the WINGS survivorship program. The more comprehensive the care, the better a patient’s chance of survival. So if you or a loved one has been diagnosed, make us your first call for cancer care.
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